Now that we’re well into cold and flu season and what will certainly be a difficult winter re-adjusting to indoor coronavirus pandemic rules, it’s time for yet another year of trying to explain to their kids the importance of preventing illness. As it turns out, small children may not be the most receptive to lectures on germ theory or public health.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there for parents that guide them through talking to their kids about the flu, the spread of germs and what they can do to stop it. Here are a few of our suggestions:
Our first recommendation is a free downloadable booklet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on teaching your child about the flu. Not only does it include conversation prompts for parents, it also includes more extensive lesson plans for childcare and early childhood programs that parents can also draw from. It breaks lessons down about handwashing and covering your cough or sneeze by age groups, giving you the tools ideal for your child’s stage of development.
Created for an elementary school in Mauritius, this cute, catchy animated video features a rapping teacher explaining the importance of hygiene and how to avoid the spread of germs both at school and at home.
“Sid the Science Kid”
Leave it to The Jim Henson Company to create an adorable yet informative video on why (and when) you should wash your hands. This one does a great job of explaining germs — specifically, that you can’t see them (without a powerful microscope) but that they can still make you sick.
“Colds, the Flu & You”
This video gets right into what germs are and what they have to do with you getting sick. This would be a better option for slightly older children because of some of the more scientific germs, but the mouse puppet makes the whole thing pretty accessible.
Big Bird learns about handwashing
Though not as flashy as some of the more recent videos, this one, from a 1984 episode of Sesame Street, gets the point about handwashing across while giving parents a welcome dose of nostalgia. (Since people are generally not as thorough with their handwashing technique as we’d like them to be, this one’s good to revisit from time to time!)
TED-Ed germ theory animation
OK, I know I said there wouldn’t be germ theory, but this TED-Ed animated video does a really great job simplifying the idea for your older (or more advanced) children. As a bonus, you’ll probably learn something new too.
So the next time you have to have a sit-down to talk about the Dos and Don’ts of staying healthy when there’s a bug going around, pop on one of these, and hopefully, it will help them understand what’s going on a little better — and why they absolutely do need to wash their hands.
A version of this story was published January 2019.
Before you go, check out our favorite all-natural kids cold and cough remedies: