“Do you like boogers?”, I asked Elena, my six-year-old.
“Eh, no!” she said.
“Well, what finger do you think most people use to pick their noses?”
“The pointy finger” she said.
“Correct, the index finger,” I said. “What finger do you think most people use to press the elevator button?”
“The pointy finger”, she repeated. Elena then briefly paused to think about what she said and then came to a startling public health conclusion: “Oh, I see daddy, so every time we press the elevator button with the bottom part of our finger it’s like we’re touching everyone’s boogers.”
“Exactly,” I said. “That’s why you should always use your knuckles to press buttons.”
I don’t know about you but if you observe people as much as I do, you know that I’m not exaggerating. Most people are careless – and even plain reckless – when it comes to hygiene.
For example, ladies, as much as I hate to disclose this to you, about 70% of men who go to the bathroom don’t wash their hands after they use the restroom and of the 30% that do, almost half wash their hands only with water. My wife says women are only slightly better than us at this.
These hygiene issues are especially relevant at this time of the year because we’re now entering the flu season but for most it still won’t make a difference in the way they live. If you thought last year’s Swine Flu scared everyone into religiously washing their hands, I don’t think it has because without even trying you will routinely find people of all ages sneezing into their hands and then shaking other people’s hands.
As a parent, I don’t think you should take these nasty hygiene habits lightly because they are not only disgusting but are even dangerous. The most important thing we do is that we teach our kids to have a healthy obsession about hygiene.
The first way we do this is that we help our kids understand in very practical ways like the elevator button trick that it’s very easy to mingle with germs. Talking about germs can often seem like talking about air because they are invisible so we’ve spent time describing to our two older kids that germs are like invisible monsters that are everywhere and want them to miss washing their hands, feet or bodies to come in.
In our next story I will share with you some of my other flu fighting parenting tricks but in the meantime we would love to know what your kid hygiene tricks are.