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Helping Children Understand Germs & Illness

A Guide to Presenting Information to Children in a Way They Will Understand

Germs on a handHave you ever seen a child sneeze? Cough? Open mouth, no cover, or they don’t wash their hands? Yep, I’ve seen it too. It’s our job as caregivers to teach children very basic hygiene skills for them to understand what is expected, how to protect themselves, how to protect others, and why.

Children are currently being kept at home instead of partaking in their normal daily activities. Some of them might be confused as to why this is happening. Helping children understand what they can do to stop the spread of germs can help to reduce anxiety, increase communication with caregivers, and educate on germs and illness, while also improving their basic hygiene skills.

If you're looking for a way to talk to your children about why we’re social distancing, why hand washing is important, how to protect themselves, or illness in general, here are some resources that may help.

Videos to share with children:

Sesame Street “Elmo & Rosita: The Right Way to Sneeze”

Curious George “George Learns About Germs”

Story Bots “How Do People Catch a Cold?”

Social stories:
These help children understand the Coronavirus, what it is and how it spreads.

What is the Coronavirus?

Hello, My Name is Coronavirus

My Coronavirus Story

How to Explain COVID-19 to Your Kids

Super Why! “ABC Scrub With Me!” Teaches Kids to Scrub Clean

We hope these videos, social stories and activities will help you, and your family, discuss illness in a healthy, interactive way, while teaching skills and helping your children feel safe. 

Ariel Jacobs, LGPC, is a therapist in Brook Lane’s Frederick Outpatient Office