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I'm being driven to distraction by my three year old's refusal to wash her hands after using the bathroom. She loves playing with water, so why is she digging her heels in about washing her hands?!?!

I've tried several approaches -- fancy cartoon-character soap, "forgetting" how to wash my hands and asking her to show me, washing her hands with a washcloth, having her show a stuffed animal how she washes her hands, telling her "whatever you do, definitely DON'T WASH YOUR HANDS, etc. They all work for a couple days and then we're back to no handwashing.

Now I just basically refuse to do anything with her until she washes her hands. "I play with girls with clean hands," I say. Especially since we've been passing a stomach virus around the family recently.

Today there's a easter egg hunt in a nearby park. I think she would like it a whole lot. I tell her that when we are all ready to go, we can go to the hunt. But again she's gone to the bathroom and refused to wash her hands. I keep telling her that if she is ready in time, we can go. It's six minutes til the egg hunt, and I can see we're going to miss it. I'm frustrated because I think she would have had a blast at the hunt.

What do you think about this approach? Good, bad?
 

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I think missing a once-a-year, fun Easter egg hunt because she won't wash her hands is seriously over the top. Can't you compromise and help her use a baby wipe or something instead if it's such a huge deal that she wash her hands. She's only three....a punishment like that isn't going to register with her yet anyway.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jenners26 View Post
I think missing a once-a-year, fun Easter egg hunt because she won't wash her hands is seriously over the top. Can't you compromise and help her use a baby wipe or something instead if it's such a huge deal that she wash her hands. She's only three....a punishment like that isn't going to register with her yet anyway.
This is what I think to. She isn't at an age where she can understand time yet. Can you go in with her and wash hands with her too. We used to do bubble races. If you can't do that then get her some hand sanitizer and be happy that she is using something.
 

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I know this is something she definitely needs to be doing but I think you are making too big a deal about it in her eyes, she may see that she is getting lots of attention if she doesn't wash her hands because of your reaction. I think maybe you should still try to reward her when she does wash her hands, wash hands together a little while longer. See how you get on, good luck!
 

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We tried the special soap too, but it drove me batty because the kids were so exited about it they used it very wastefully.

I have had good luck with fun hand washing songs. You can make up your own silly songs or there are some nice ones to be found online. I am on a yahoo group moderated by another MDC mom and she sends out a file of cute ones every so often.

Good luck!
 

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I think she may be digging in her heels on this one because you're making such a big thing out of it. If it were me, I'd drop it. If you really feel the hands must be washed, you might just lead her to the sink and do it for her, or get them with a baby wipe. I think that with 3 year olds especially, the more you want them to do something, and the harder you try with bribes or threats to get them to do it, the LESS likely they are to do it.
 

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I think many 3 year olds CAN be expected to wash their hands. My 4 year old daughter did and my 19 month old has for a few months, and says "wash hands, wash hands!" But that doesn't mean all 3 year olds will do this. They all dig their heels in about one issue or another. So in OP's case, I'd say use hand sanitizer.

My 4 year old learned her obsesive hand cleaning habits from potty training videos, her adored grandfather, and me (of course.) T.V. discussions on germs really stuck with her, so she preaches her own gospel about microscopic germs, and asks people "Did you wash this???" before she eats things. (A little scary, I know....) However, it sounds like OP's daughter might not be influenced by the examples of kids on videos, and maybe she won't even be influenced by the teaching of someone she adores. Still....some people won't use hand sanitizer on children (or adults) for safety reasons. If the hand sanitizer isn't an option, then perhaps the only choice is to hang in there mama, and make sure she washes her hands a few times a day. Personally, hand washing is a big issue for me; I can not stomach the idea that people don't wash their hands after they use the toilet. For that reason, I don't even touch doors in public restrooms without holding a paper towel or something. Perhaps I wouldn't tie this issue to rewards or losing privilages. But I would stand by the door and insist hands were washed before DC leaves the bathroom, or I would help her do it, until she realized it wasn't worth the battle-- it just has to be done. That might take a week, a few weeks, perhaps a month. But don't worry OP....don't give up. She'll get used to it eventually, and the habit will probably stick with her her entire life.

xoe
 

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It's not clear to me if she is refusing to wash her hands by herself or if she refuses to do it at all, even with your help.

If it's the former, I would go in and wash hands with her, that way she is getting your attention and getting the job done.

If it's the latter, I would try a sticker reward system. Put a calendar or picture or on the wall and buy some stickers (they don't have to be fancy - those shiny colored stars would work) and tell her every time she washes up, she can use her clean hands to put a sticker on the calendar (or picture). Many times a little thing like that can be a HUGE incentive to a child. Good luck!
 

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How about instead of asking her to wash her hands... let her play with the water for a few minutes with a little soap to make bubbles?

Missing a big, fun event because she didn't wash her hands doesn't really make sense to me. I can't really see how the two are interconnected very well so I wouldn't expect a 3 year old to understand it any better.
 

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Yup, I'd go for the hand sanitizer.

I just wanted to gently remark that although there obviously is a link between handwashing and a number of illnesses, I'd be careful about making your daughter feel like stomach flu in the family is her fault. Just a thought from someone who had an OCD mother.
 

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She's 3.

Maybe it's not so much a refusal to wash hands as just....forgetting to wash hands because she's only 3 years old.

All those methods you described in your OP worked for a few days, right? Well, maybe you are just going to have to use some variation of those methods for some time because she's only 3 years old.

A big part of parenting is saying the same thing over and over again. It doesn't mean the kids are purposely misbehaving, it just means they are kids who don't always pay attention.

My younger two are 9 and 6 and sometimes I'll still say "did you wash your hands?" when they come out of the bathroom. Heck, sometimes I ask if they flushed!

Missing an Easter Egg hunt is a huge punishment. My kids would have to do something pretty heinous to warrant that.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jenners26 View Post
I think missing a once-a-year, fun Easter egg hunt because she won't wash her hands is seriously over the top. Can't you compromise and help her use a baby wipe or something instead if it's such a huge deal that she wash her hands. She's only three....a punishment like that isn't going to register with her yet anyway.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
I think she may be digging in her heels on this one because you're making such a big thing out of it. If it were me, I'd drop it. If you really feel the hands must be washed, you might just lead her to the sink and do it for her, or get them with a baby wipe. I think that with 3 year olds especially, the more you want them to do something, and the harder you try with bribes or threats to get them to do it, the LESS likely they are to do it.

I agree.

How about you back off and explain to her about germs? How some are good but it's important to wash your hands so that the bad ones go away? I mean, she's three. She won't die from not washing her hands. It's one thing if they are caked in feces, but she would probably want to wash them then.

Also, does she have any other issues with touching things or bathing? It could be a tactile sensory issue.
 

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Have you tried asking why she doesn't like washing her hands with soap?

I have a 13 yr old DD with sensory issues, especially related to scents. And I have a 7 year old Ds who is autistic. For my DD, it was as easy as getting unscented soap to use at home and hand sanitizer when she is out. For my DS, it was a problem with touching the soap to use it. But, when we were out someplace that had automatic soap dispensers, he liked using them. So, we bought a battery operated automatic soap dispenser for home and he's had no problems using it.

I know it is important to get her to wash her hands. But, I think not letting her go to the Easter festivities is a bit much.
 

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My dd went through that stage. I would watch her potty and for pretty clean pee wipes I wouldn't force it. Poop - either I wiped or she washed after.

I stopped fighting. She didn't get sick more than usual and the phase passed.

She now washes without reminder.

-Angela
 

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i agree with pp who said its probably more of a 3 yo thing, than a washing hands thing. my 3 yo's thing to refuse to do is dress himself. just refuses. sometimes this includes pulling his pants up and down to potty. but i know that it won't always be like this, so i let it slide to a huge degree and basically trick him into dressing himself anyway.

i have had this hands washing issue before and i ignored it. i made sure he got his hands in soap and water several times a day, but i did't force the issue directly. i know my bathroom is clean and at the time, i was either wiping his butt for him, or it was only a peepee, so i just let it slide. alot of times, me telling him all the reasons he had to do it made no sense whatsoever to him.

there are a set of behaviors your child will develop, either on their own or with your help, at some point in their lives so you don't have to force the issue. especially not to the point of missing holiday events. if you're getting to that point, you may want to examine your own motivations. is this ocd or germophobia? or are you really just not confident that this behavior will develop later if you don't push it now? its good to know one way or the other. because therein lies the best way to deal with the situation.
 

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Okay, I know this is probably outrageous to everyone, but I never wash my hands after I use the bathroom at home, unless I get something noticeably on them. Sometimes I don't in public restrooms. I never require my kids too.
:
 

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"you need to wash your hands after using the toilet. Do you want to wash them, or do you want mommy to wash them for you?" If she chooses you then wash her hands for her.... if she won't choose the next choice is "If you want to choose you have to to do it by the time I count 3, otherwise I will make the choice". Or "Do you want to wash hands at the bathroom sink or the (whereever there is another water source". It is a power struggle that will run its coarse.... just be sanitary, not overpowering.

Good Luck
 

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We have a new technique that has been working very well... I ask the kids "who is in charge - you or the germs?" and since they prefer to be in charge of as much as possible they go eagerly running into the bathroom so they can take control and wash the germs off.
 
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