Fun Flu Prevention Tactics That You (and Your Preschooler) Will Love

Boy wearing mask to prevent the fluEach year more than 3 million people in the United States alone are affected by the influenza (or flu) virus. For most healthy adults, coming down with the flu is certainly unpleasant, but for more vulnerable groups like young children and the elderly, the flu virus can be a serious threat. According to the Center for Disease Control, children aged 5 and under face some of the highest risks of complications from the flu. Unfortunately, this age range coincides with a newfound desire for total control and independence. Preschool-aged children have minds of their own but cannot fully understand the effects of wiping their runny noses with their bare hands or sharing juice boxes with other children. If “because I said so” is becoming a little too redundant in your flu prevention repertoire, consider these fun flu prevention tactics that you and your preschooler will love:

Use a Colorful, Foaming Soap for Handwashing

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spreading of the flu virus but this requires washing with warm water and soap for at least 10 to 15 seconds. As you know, this is easier said than done with a preschooler! If your child is one of those speedy hand washers, consider switching to a colorful, foaming soap. The visual appeal of a bright color, paired with squishy foam, is fun enough to hold their interest until their hands are thoroughly cleansed. Foaming soaps in every color from pink to green are typically available in most stores. 

Kids need repetition and reminders. At Kids Harbor, we post pictures of the kids going through all the steps to properly wash hands (and we laminate them so they last longer). Try putting up some pictures of your little one above the sink to remind them how to wash hands the right way.

Show Your Preschooler How Germs Spread with Glitter

According to preschool logic, germs cannot be seen and therefore cease to exist (despite the fact that Henry, the imaginary Hippo is also requesting apple slices). To educate your preschooler about how quickly harmful germs can spread, mix some loose glitter into hand lotion. As your child applies the lotion, explain to them how the glitter is like germs. Encourage him or her to touch tables, pick up toys and touch door knobs. The glitter will spread in the same fashion as the flu virus. This activity is entertaining while also allowing preschoolers to visualize how germs are spread.

Increase Vitamin C Intake with Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Orange slice

While studies about the role of vitamin C for flu or cold treatments are conflicting, the vitamin is important for maintaining a strong immune system. There are a number of ways to encourage your preschooler to eat more foods with vitamin C but making fresh squeezed orange juice is always a crowd pleaser. Allowing your child to squeeze the oranges and play a role in making the juice will increase the odds of them actually drinking it. Again, drinking orange juice alone probably won’t prevent the flu but boosting your child’s intake of vitamin C certainly can’t hurt.

Disinfect Toys with a Toy Car Wash

You have spent years telling your child to share their toys with their playmates. When flu season arrives, you certainly can’t undo all of the “sharing is caring” mantras you have taught. Instead, be sure to clean your child’s toys regularly. Get your child involved by starting a toy “car wash”. This can be as simple as having a bucket of soapy water and rinsing them off but you can rest assured that all of those harmful germs will be gone by the time your child is finished. 

Play Doctor

Girl Playing Doctor with Teddy Bear

A flu vaccine can decrease your child’s risk of getting the flu by as much as 60%, according to the CDC. Typically administered with a needle, a flu shot is the epitome of a preschooler’s worst nightmare.

Although the quick pinch is unavoidable, you can take steps to prepare your child in advance. A helpful and entertaining way to prepare is by playing doctor. Begin by acting as the doctor and demonstrating a “flu shot” on a doll or stuffed animal. After your child is familiar with the routine, allow them to take over as the doctor and give you a “shot”. When the real appointment time arrives, your child will know what to expect and will feel more relaxed.

By implementing these fun activities into your flu prevention strategy, you are allowing your preschooler to exercise their need for independence and creativity while also keeping them healthy.

Parent Resources

Keep the fun (and learning) going with these additional ways to teach your preschooler about preventing illnesses.

  • Read a book about germs like “Germs are not for sharing.
  • Use hula hoops to demonstrate the concept of personal space.
  • Sing your preschooler’s favorite song to time handwashing.
  • Make “snot” slime to teach the importance of using tissues.

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