Fears about swine flu seem to have abated somewhat, but we're still in the thick of cold and flu season. It's still necessary to teach your kids the steps they can take to prevent the spread of disease -- things like coughing and sneezing into their sleeves, keeping their hands away from their eyes and faces, and washing their hands thoroughly. How can you make sure these lessons get through? Here are some tips.
Use music. It's tempting for kids to wash their hands in the most perfunctory way possible, running them under the water and then dashing out the door. Encourage them to sing a song to mark the time while they wash -- the alphabet song is good for this. Or check out Soap Soundz, a line of soap dispensers for kids that have built-in songs that play for 20 seconds, the time the CDC recommends washing for.
Set an example. Look around you during cold and flu season, and you'll probably see a lot of people coughing and sneezing into their hands. Kids will pick up on this, but if you can demonstrate through your own actions that it's healthier to sneeze and cough into your arm, they'll follow your lead.
Stop unhealthy behaviors early It's important for kids to keep their hands way from their eyes, nose, and mouth, but it's also very difficult. There's no easy way to get them to stop -- you just need to be patient and remind them to stop whenever you see them doing it. Don't get angry. Just be firm.
Get vaccinated. While there's no cure for the common cold, vaccines for seasonal flu and swine flu are both available and, at this point, easy to get. Vaccinations are important, not only because they protect you and your family, but because they protect others.
What other cold- and flu-fighting tips do you have?