2020 will be known as the year we learned about social distancing. We need to be sure everyone clearly understands what social distancing means. Above all, that means we need to teach our kids the rules as well. 

We can teach Social Distancing with three basic rules:

  1. Wash Hands & Hands Down 
  2. Arms Out, Arms Down 
  3. Elbow Cough & Elbow Sneeze
Mother and son washing hands in sink

1. Wash Hands & Hands Down 

This rule is really two rules combined, but because they both involve hands they are grouped together. Grouping two rules about hands together makes them easier to remember and to teach.

Washing hands properly and keeping our hands down is the first step in social distancing. By washing hands we stop coronavirus staying on our hands. Keeping our hands down stops coronavirus spreading from touching other people. Hands down is better than hands to self . Why? Because we want to stop touching our face too, especially our nose and mouth.

Wash Hands 

The World Health Organisation tells us we need to wash our hands under warm running water with soap for 20 seconds. That’s singing Happy Birthday twice. We also need to wash our hands a certain way. The World Health Organisation’s Washing Hands Guide and Poster has 12 steps to washing hands. 12 steps is a lot to remember, so breaking these steps down into 3-4 steps may be an easier way to remember. 

Hands Down  

Safe hands is not just about washing hands though. Hands Down is just as important for two reasons:

  1. avoiding contact with other people through handshakes, high fives or holding hands
  2. avoiding touching our faces: eyes, noses and mouths.

By teaching Hands Down you’re telling kids what to do with their hands. Just telling kids to keep their hands to themselves, doesn’t prevent touching our faces: eyes, noses and mouths.

2. Arms Out, Arms Down 

Social distancing means staying at least 3 feet or 1 metre apart from other people. In Australia we have to stay 1.5 metres apart. The best way for kids to remember this distance is to teach them to spread out both arms. But we don’t want them to keep their arms up all the time. So we need to teach kids to remember to put their arms down too. 

Show your kids what Arms Out and Arms Down looks like

Arms Out looks like:

  • Facing each other with both arms stretched forwards
  • Standing side to side with both your arms stretched out to the side 

Arms Down looks like

  • Put arms down by side

3. Elbow Cough & Elbow Sneeze

We might not always have a tissue handy, but we will always have our elbow. Teaching how to sneeze and cough into an elbow stops getting on our hands. Sneezing or coughing into an elbow also fixes the problem of trying to find a tissue. It also saves you the step of teaching how to get rid of a tissue. 

The best way to teach Sneeze or Cough into Elbow is to show our kids how to do it. Make sure you always sneeze or cough into your own elbow too.

Keep the rules short

Each rule is 5 words or less, tells what action you want them to do and which specific body part you want them to use.

Tell and Show

Tell them

  • Tell them what action you want them to do
  • Tell which body part you want them to use.
  • Tell them using words and images
    • words of rules written in large letters on a sign
    • gestures with your hands 

Show them 

  • Show them how you do the rule
  • Show them a video of how to do the rule

Get them to show you. 

  • Get the person to show you how they follow the rule 
  • Get the person to show other people 

We need to be sure everyone clearly understands what social distancing means. We can keep our kids safe by teaching 3 simple rules quickly and easily.