My daughter often refuses on principle to wash hands esp. after coming home

No conversation seems to be possible.

What to do?

Maybe there is some child series about hygiene, deceases, bacteria etc.?

3 Answers 3


This is more of a 'parenting hack' than a method of explaining, but I let my little one (almost 3) wash a plastic toy animal with a little extra hand soap. When he isn't the mood to cooperate with a hand wash, he's usually still willing to 'give an elephant a bath' or 'help a puppy wash his paws'.

I also remind him that dirty hands can give him a cold, which is something that has happened often enough that what getting a cold means is pretty concrete to him (yet not as scary as threatening dire illnesses). I also incorporate hand washing into the normal routine-- before we eat we wash hands. It's just a given, it happens no matter if we 'feel like it' or not. It's a normal part of the day aside from being a precautionary measure against sickness.


Well my cousins (ages 6, 4 and 4) love washing their hands, if there is a speck of dirt they go running.

The reason because of this I think is threefold.

  1. We let them do it themselves, from putting on the soap to turning open the faucet and washing their hands... sure it becomes a bit of a mess but if you make it "fun" they will do it more likely... and kids love to play with water.
  2. One of them became really sick for a while and had a weakened immune system for this period, so it was explained to them that if they don't do it they will become sick again or make their sister sicker. So if you have anybody close to the family who has been sick and can give visual representation of what it means to become sick, it could help her see why it is important.
  3. Lead by example and don't cave in. Whenever they come from the bathroom I wash my hands and often they want to imitate me. Also if they don't wash their hands, no candy for them, giving them the extra motivation to do it.

Hope this helps.


I have the same situation with my 3 year old. We sometimes have the discussion around contagions and disease, but I think expecting her to do something in order to avoid a hypothetical adverse outcome later is expecting too much foresightedness for her age. Explaining it vividly enough to really have an effect I think might also risk turning her into a germaphobe.

What I've found to be more helpful is to talk up handwashing. Whenever she says she doesn't like to wash her hands, I usually say "oh really? I love washing mine. I think the feeling of warm water on my hands is really nice" and that's usually enough to change her mind.

Introducing play generally helps with anything, too. We got a hard soap (we've always used liquid soap ourselves) and let her squish that around to make washing hands more playful.

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