16, Aug 2020

Teach Your Kids How to Cover Their Mouth When Coughing

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The pandemic has been compelling us to change our ways – and our kids are no exception. They would still need to go to public places and it is inevitable that they will have to meet people in the future. But we have to help them adapt to the current practices to keep our communities healthy and safe. Here we will share with you some tips on how to teach your kids to cover their mouth when coughing.

1. Tell them why they need to cover their mouth when coughing. Just like adults, kids are more motivated to follow routine instructions when they see the importance of it. No need to use highfalutin words or scientific terminologies that are not helpful in their level of understanding. Just remember to tell them this in ways that they will understand.

For example 1: Remember how small cough virus made you sick? Those cough virus also want to make other people sick. It does not feel good to be sick, right? We do not want other people to feel that way, too. That’s why we stop the cough virus from coming out from us by covering our mouth when we cough.

Example 2: When we eat healthy food and take medicine, our body beats those cough virus so that they will not make other people sick, too. So when they are weak already, they might want to escape from our bodies and flee to another body to make that person sick. But we will not let that happen! We will defeat the cough virus in our own body and that will be the end of them! We just have to cover our mouth when coughing so that they do not escape while our bodies beat them completely.

2. Tell them how to cover their mouth when coughing. After the “why” makes sense to them, you can now educate them about the steps on how they can cover their mouth when coughing. Just remember: TE

Teach your kids, how to use a Tissue-

When you notice yourself coughing frequently, make sure to bring with you a bunch of tissues wherever you go – whether it is inside your home with your family or in public places with your friends. Cover your mouth and nose with the tissue when coughing and dispose of it immediately. Remember to use new tissue paper every time you cough for good hygiene and for less chances of your cough to worsen. Never cough on your hands! You might not be aware of it, but you might touch another person or a commonly held object (i.e. railings, doorknobs) which will result to leaving your cough virus for other people to contract. The last thing we want to do is to spread our cough, so remember to never cough on your hands!

Teach your kids to use their Elbow-

When you do not have a handkerchief and you feel like coughing, it is better to cough on your elbow than on your hands. Your elbow makes less contact with your environment compared to your hands, so that also makes transmission less plausible. Simply tuck your nose and mouth into the crook of your elbow when you cough. Make sure to wash your elbow when you get the chance!


Teach your kids to use their Shirt-

If you do not have a handkerchief and if you can not use your elbows to cough on, you can use the inside of your shirt instead. Just gently lift the collar of your shirt and cough on the inside part of the cloth. Even if this is the least recommended out of the three, it is still useful in trapping the virus and preventing it from flying towards other people. Make sure to take a warm bath at the end of the day to clean your body!

You can also think of better ways to say this to your kids. Afterall, you know how to communicate with them better. Most teachers use animated stories or roleplay to teach lessons about health and hygiene to children at school. If your kids have vivid imagination, you can use their favorite cartoon characters or DC/Marvel heroes as characters in your original story at home. This approach will definitely make them more attentive to your explanation and you will be amazed by how fast they will be able to absorb this new information!
Remember to be patient and gentle. We must remember that unlike eating or playing, covering our mouth when coughing is not a natural action for kids. A child learns a new routine through time, consistency, and looking up to adults who model this behavior. When we are patient enough to model the practice to our kids consistently they will see that it is a natural practice that they do not have to think so deeply about. It will just come naturally. Giving them rewards such as affirmations like “You did well covering your mouth when you coughed”, a gentle pat on the head, or giving them a simple snack goes a long way to motivate them to repeat the action. Punishments do not work as well as rewards in establishing this habit, so we would like to discourage that, but it is still up to you as their parents to employ this if you see it as necessary.
We remember our reason for teaching our kids to cover their mouth when coughing – it is to help keep our communities healthy and safe. Just like our doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners, we as parents and our children are given significant roles to help make this happen by starting with ourselves. At their young age, children can learn about empathy and citizenship through this simple but impactful behavior.

I am going to protect my community by covering my mouth when coughing because I know how hard it is to get sick and I do not want them to feel this, too.

Our efforts, small and big, will eventually add up and we will see that it is all worth it.

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