Children can get sick easily, and even more if it’s flu season or a when a strain of colds is spreading around.
Germs that cause bacterial infections can spread easily among children, scattering into the air when coughed out and coming into contact with other children.
That’s why it’s important to teach young children to cover their coughs.
But covering their coughs is something that’s new and unnatural to children, so you’ll need to teach them this habit.
Here’s a good way to do it:
1. Demonstrate It Clearly
The best and most effective way to teach your child how to cover their cough is by showing them how to do it yourself.
Sit down with your child and show what to do when they feel like coughing. Explain how they should cover their cough by bringing their arm up to their face and coughing on their elbow.
(Coughing on their inner elbow is more recommended than coughing into their hands – children rarely wash their hands, and they touch everything.)
Demonstrate this technique slowly in front of your child, so they can see how to do it correctly and encourage them to do it a few times along with you.
2. Explain How Germs Can Travel
You’ll find that it’s easier for your child to learn and adopt this habit once they know why they need to do it.
To help them understand, explain to them that little germs can travel in the air whenever they cough or sneeze. And when these germs travel and reach another child or person, it can make them sick.
By covering their mouth when they cough, they can make sure that these germs don’t get very far and infect others.
It always helps to explain this concept in a visual way that makes it easier to understand. Here’s one to try:
Get some flour (or something similar) and ask your child to grab a handful. Tell your child to hold this handful of flour in front of their face and then pretend to cough.
The flour will then fly and spread in the air. This will help your child imagine how germs can travel in the air when they cough.
3. Praise Them When They Do It Right
When you see your child covering their cough correctly, make sure to praise them and let them know they did a great job. This will encourage them to keep doing it until it becomes second nature to them.
If you see them coughing without covering it, don’t get mad or scold them. Be patient and remind them gently what to do next time.
4. Lead By Example
Children learn best by copying others – especially you – so it’s important to show them consistently how to do it.
If necessary, try deliberately coughing every now and then and covering it correctly to remind them how to do it. When your child sees you regularly doing this, they’re more likely to follow you and do it, too.
Aside from the method above, there are many other ways to teach your child how to cover their cough.
- Make it a game. Ask your child to count how many times they’ve covered their cough and give them a prize when they reach a certain number.
- Draw a cute mark on their elbow where they should cough. Make a cute drawing on the inner side of their elbow to show them where to cough.
- Turn it into a song. Sing a song about covering their cough every time they cough, or show a video like this and sing along.
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