For kids, there’s no feeling quite like finally getting out of a stuffy classroom, or any restrictive indoor environment, and letting loose out on the playground. Running, climbing, scrambling, and swinging are just as important for your child as sitting still and learning. Unfortunately that also means getting exposed to a lot of dirt and germs, often combined with the scrapes and minor cuts that kids tend to accumulate during active play.
To keep your kids happy and healthy it’s important for both parents and kids to develop good playground hygiene and healthy play habits. Doing this well won’t just help to protect them from this year’s flu season, it’ll give them the knowledge and habits they need to protect themselves in years to come.
Clean Germy Play Surfaces
Playgrounds, whether they’re in your local neighborhood, at school, or in your own backyard, tend to accumulate a lot of bacteria and viruses. Swings, especially baby swings, are often thousands of times more densely contaminated than a regular home toilet seat. Other common culprits include hand grips, the top entrance of any slides, tunnels, and seesaws. Particularly at public playgrounds, it’s a good idea to simply wipe down these surfaces with an antibacterial wipe before your kids start playing.
Teach Good Hand Washing Habits
Parents can help to keep their kids’ environment clean, but it’s impossible to completely avoid germs. The ropes they hold onto when they’re on a swing can’t be readily disinfected, and the same holds true for cargo nets and every other material with many small nooks and crevices. To prevent infection, it’s important to make sure that they regularly wash their hands, especially after playing and being active with their hands. While very small children obviously need their hands washed for them, it’s important to encourage them to do it themselves as soon as they’re old enough. This helps to ensure that it becomes an automatic behavior, and builds a healthy habit for later in life.
Check for Scrapes
Most of the time, young kids will let you know when they’re hurt, because they want to be comforted. Unfortunately, this won’t always hold true. If your kids get hurt doing something you explicitly forbade, they might feel guilty or embarrassed and try to hide it from you, especially if it’s just a minor injury like a scrape. This can become a serious problem with any kind of injury that breaks the skin, because your child naturally won’t clean the wound or dress it, leaving them at risk of infection, scarring, and other complications.
A simple way to make sure that you find out about any of these kinds of injuries is to simply always directly ask them when it’s time to leave the play area. Children aren’t great at lying, and often won’t bother to do so as long as parents don’t make them feel that they’ll get a negative response for their honesty.