How can I get my child to wash his hands after using the toilet?

How can I get my child to wash his hands after using the toilet?

When your child is old enough to use the potty, he's old enough to imitate what you do afterward. Let him watch your usual routine of going to the bathroom, which includes how you wash your hands. If he sees you do this, he'll probably start to associate hand washing with going to the bathroom. Have him stand on a stool to reach the sink, and help him with the water and the soap.

To reinforce this behavior, you can give him a reward, such as a sticker, a star on a star chart, or a hug. I would separate rewards for hand washing from those for potty usage so that if he succeeds with the potty but doesn't remember to wash his hands, he has still accomplished something. To make it more fun, you can designate special wipes or towels to be used only for post-potty hand washing. After a while, washing his hands after using the potty will become automatic.

If your child has been potty trained for some time, you'll need another approach. Give him a good reason for washing up. Let him know that he could get sick (with a cold, for example) if he touches germs and then touches his mouth. Don't make him nervous by going overboard about encountering germs (you don't want him washing his hands constantly), but teach him to get into the habit of washing up whenever he's involved in something that would make his hands unclean — such as sneezing or coughing into them, using the toilet, or playing outside and/or with something dirty.

Also teach him to wash his hands before eating at home, at preschool, and when he's at a friend's house. And make sure you model good behavior for your child by washing up yourself!

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