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Dad’s Devastating Trick to Get Daughter to Wash Hands Amid Coronavirus Fears Is So Wrong

Sometimes, we turn to Reddit’s AITA section for pure entertainment. Sometimes, it’s a great educational tool for adults. In today’s case, it’s a lesson for all parents, who may not be as bad as “the asshole” who posts, but who might be coming close to making a similar mistake when it comes to raising children in the era of the coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19.

“I’ve been encouraging my kids to wash their hands frequently but my 5 y/o daughter isn’t washing her hands enough,” wrote user Ponto11, who said there have been a handful of cases of COVID-19 in his area. “I came up with the idea to throw out one of her dolls and tell her it died of the coronavirus. She’s pretty upset and my wife said it was a stupid thing to do. I just want to limit the chances of us all catching the disease, especially since I work in a care home.”

Oh, boy. Where do we begin? As someone who loved her dolls and stuffed animals more than I liked most humans, I am about to cry. This little girl now thinks she killed her own doll! But as a parent with a bit of an overprotective streak, I can sort of see where he’s coming from, without exactly agreeing with his methods.

Redditors have given Ponto11 a very firm vote of “asshole,” with some even wondering if he made up this whole story.

There were some helpful, rational answers to the post.

“Yes. It’s stupid. Instead, maybe buy her a scented hand sanitizer, or go on a special outing to get fancy soap. NEVER LIE TO YOUR KIDS. Bending the truth is okay, but not lying,” wrote PastaMOnster.

This is very true — lying to children can have terrible consequences, including eroding their trust in you and possibly leading to aggression, rule-breaking, and impulsive behavior down the road, as one study recently found.

“There are MANY other ways you could have handled that,” lemonlavenderglitter wrote. “Something like that is enough to traumatize a five year old. You could have bought her a special soap or something to encourage her to use it. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT.”

Many said the onus is on adults to make sure kids the daughter’s age have clean hands.

“She’s 5, of course she isn’t going to wash enough,” said ilovepancakes134. “You need to go in with her and supervise (because even if she was ‘washing’ often enough it’s probably not proper hand-washing) telling a child their doll died due to a new illness that is scaring the crap out of people? Not appropriate.”

Ponto11 eventually wrote in again to humbly agree with everyone that he did wrong and was trying to fix it.

“I see now it was a dumb idea,” he said. “I’m getting her a nurse doll to revive her dead doll and have her place it into quarantine for a while for recovery. Wife is off buying scented soaps too. She has been crying a lot over her favourite doll dying so I hope this makes it all better.”

Okay, that’s kind of creative and funny, but this guy still doesn’t get the point that lying to children in this way can do more harm than good.

“Get the doll, apologize to kid for lying,” wrote Northern_dragon, a student in social work. “Kids need to see their parents making mistake or they will grow up dreading them. Making mistakes isn’t wrong. Not learning from them is an issue. And you aren’t learning. Do better for your daughter.”

SheKnows spoke to some actual experts on how to tackle the very difficult conversation of the coronavirus with kids of varying ages. None of them advised lying or games of make-believe.

“You should discuss the truth and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth,” pediatrician Douglas L. Krohn told us. “A preschooler doesn’t possess the abstract capacity to really handle the full truth. They’re either not going to get it, or it’s going to be confusing or unnecessarily scary.”

Also, dolls are expensive and the economy is tanking, Ponto11, so let’s not be wasteful!

Need to replace a doll or two? Costco has some surprisingly good toy deals.

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