Last week we focused on helping to raise independence in the bathroom during the brushing teeth activity, this week we move to a step by step instruction on how to teach your child hand washing instructions. All of these routines are crucial to living a healthy hygienic life for your child and allow them the best opportunity at independent living. I would also like to note that when teaching skills you are reinforcing the correct behavior after each step, and try to stick to healthy reinforcers. Candy and sweets should be avoided if possible try to use an alternative organic healthy snack and break it up into portions with a larger portion at the end for successfully completing the activity. For example in a 6-step activity you would give one raisin after each step and then 3 raisins for completing the activity successfully.
Examples of Healthy Reinforcers:
- Organic Fruit Bars
- Granola bars
- Fruits, fruit gummies.
*Reinforcer– something the person really wants (rewards, items, activity, attention, etc..).
Step 1: Approach sink and turn on the water.
The goal of this step is to get the child to approach the sink and turn on the water for hand washing time. If your child is scared or refuses to approach sink choose a high value reinforcer and offer it in exchange for approaching the sink. Once the child masters this step you can begin training the next step.
Step 2: Scan for soap in sink
Once the child approaches the sink you should teach to child to look for the soap in the
Step 3: Soaping up Hands
After finding the soap the child should be taught to rub soap on top and bottom of hands
and in between fingers. This is a great time to practice number counting depending on
the age of your child. Count to 30 with your child before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4: Rinsing Hands
Next you should your child to rub hands together and in between fingers under the
running water until all the soap has been removed from hands.
Step 5: Drying Hands
During this last step the child should be taught to shake hands off in sink and then dry with nearby towels or paper. Remember to always consult with a licensed professional before attempting to train any of these skills. Always remember when attempting to train any skill the behavior always must be broken
down into steps. Once each step is trained, it will result in being able to regularly do the skill. When attempting to train a behavior remember to make sure you have a small reinforcer (something that the child really wants) ready for training steps and to have a strong reinforcer for completing the task. Some of these may be modified depending on the skill level and age of your child. Reinforcers will be slowly removed with time from each step or from the individual
step being learned as the child learns the skill.