Sniffle season can be worrisome, but learning proper coughing etiquette can reduce the spread of germs. Here are some ways to teach your littles how to cough properly!
Teaching Kids How To Cough Without Spreading Germs
During sniffle season, children can easily transmit germs, especially when they do not cover their mouths. Without an understanding of germs — what they are and how they spread — the instinct of a child is to use their hands or merely open cough, with their tongues out and mouth open wide.
The first job of a parent trying to teach coughing etiquette is to help the child understand germs and why people need to prevent them from spreading. As an adult, you know that illness can be scary. You do not want to create worry or anxiety for your children, so keep it simple, without too much detail of specific consequences regarding infection and illness.
Think of a time when your child didn’t feel well. Explain how that yucky feeling resulted from germs and ask them if they want to help prevent others from feeling the way they did. Children are naturally loving and want to protect the people they care about.
Explain how germs can escape our bodies when we cough, potentially causing others to feel yucky. Tell your child how it is their job to contain the germs so they can’t harm others.
Most likely, your child will understand the simplified concept, but it is always a good idea to reinforce an educational moment with an example or demonstration. One way to show children how germs spread is using flour. Holding a handful of flour in their hand, ask your child to pretend to cough. When they do, the flour will puff outward, spreading into the air. Then, after teaching them the right way to cough, demonstrate how coughing into your elbow reduces the spread of the flour, aka the germs.
What is the Correct Way To Cough in Public
Children often learn from examples, and the best example comes from mom and dad. While it might seem a bit challenging to teach your child the proper coughing technique in public, it only requires clear communication, direction, and follow-through.
The first thing you should do is set aside time without distraction — no TV, tablet, toys, etc. You do not need a significant amount of time; only five to ten minutes should be enough. Sit down with your child and walk them through the basic steps of coughing etiquette:
- Bring your arm up to your face
- Using the inner elbow, cover your mouth
- Cough and return your arm to your side
Repeat the steps a couple of times yourself to show your child how to cough in public. Then, ask them to repeat the steps with you. You can turn it into a game by seeing who can do the most proper coughs in thirty seconds or something similar.
After your initial instruction, you will probably need to remind your child of the proper coughing technique and etiquette, which is natural when learning a new skill. They will only need a simple reminder of the steps or game you played, but be consistent to ensure they create a lifelong habit. Do not only focus on the correction but also offer your child praise when they cough correctly on their own.
Teaching your child about the importance of coughing etiquette does not have to be overly complex or involved. Keep a few things in mind when trying to teach your child:
- Explain in a way they’ll understand
- Demonstrate visually
- Make the process fun to improve memorability
While teaching your child good hygiene and coughing etiquette are beneficial to reducing the spread of germs and illness; it is also vital they maintain a healthy and balanced system. Wellements offers supplements designed for children to promote healthy growth and development, along with products that support immunity and products designed to help soothe cough.*