One of the advice from WHO on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to stop touching your face so much. But honestly, this advice is often easier said than done. And, it’s even harder for kids to follow that. Virtually everyone habitually touches their face. Touching your face allows the germs on your hands to reach moist, porous surface tissue where it can enter your body and cause infection. The intact skin on the human hands is fairly impervious to infection, but the mucosal tissue lining your eyes, nose, and mouth is not so tough.
While the Coronavirus spreads primarily through close contact with infected people, the CDC still warns us about how the virus can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. And, that’s where not touching your face so much comes in handy, since it’s possible to pick up COVID-19 after touching something an infected person touched. Well, kids like to discover and touch things. So, here are some tips to help your kids to stop touching their faces too much.
Know How much Your Kids Touch Their Face Throughout the Day
Face-touching is often subconscious behavior, which means people do it without even being aware of it. If you need a number, then people probably touch their face around 23 times in just 1 hour, according to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). And, even people like health experts have trouble not touching their faces.
The problem with telling anyone to not do anything that is a habit will probably make them do it more, especially for kids. In attempting to remember to stop doing something, that thing must be in front of your mind. This means your kids should be aware of their face-touching frequency. So, you can try to play board games or watch a movie with your kid and secretly record how many times it happens. Also, you can turn it into a game where who has the lowest face-touching times wins! Doing that is not only fun, but it also makes your kids pay more attention to this problem.
Identify Their Own Personal Face-Touching Triggers
People touch their faces for lots of different reasons. Therefore, the first step to reducing your kid’s face-touching is identifying what part is touched the most. A lot of face-touching habits can be a result of triggers like brushing hairs out of your face, picking at a pimple, or scratching an itch on the nose. However, stress and boredom can also exacerbate the urge to touch your face too. When you figure out the problem, come up with a suitable solution for it. For example, my daughter loves hairstyles with bangs but it’s also the reason why she touched her forehead and eyes too much. So, I suggest a new trending hairstyle without it and problems solved!
Find other Behaviors to Distract Your Kids
Like any habit that is difficult to stop, we suggest having a distraction. This means when your kids have the urge to touch their face, they will do something else instead. But, the difficult part is figuring out what destruction is strong enough.
On the one hand, you can make it almost impossible for your kids to touch their face by letting them sit on their hands. Just for a while to help break the habit. And, as always, you can still turn it into a game! In this case, who pull their hands out last win. It may take some time, but after a few weeks your kids can really give up the bad habit.
The Bottom Line
If none of that works, enlist items or habits that enable your kids to touch their faces but also reduce the risk of infection. For instance, make your kids carry tissues at all times so they can wipe their mouth or catch a sneeze. Also, tell your kids to use their knuckles to touch an elevator button instead of fingers or a paper towel to open a bathroom door. On top of that, we recommend carrying hand sanitizer and using it frequently.
Bring in other reinforcements like using technology can also help! Putting a frequent reminder into your kid’s phone telling them every few minutes like “Don’t touch your face”. The more your kid sees the message, the more likely it is to sink in, making not face-touching their new habit.