AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wash your hands of stress.
By the time kids know how to wash their hands…
“they do it at school, they do it at home”
…they learn the benefits of being clean.
“But how can we empower them?” Katie Taylor asked.
Taylor is a mom, author, podcaster and certified child life specialist. She knows a few things about helping families and their children.
“As a parent and as working with children at the hospitals, when you can make things more fun, kids tend to like it and do it more,” Taylor said. So when COVID-19 came, she thought, “the one thing we can do to control this pandemic is teaching kids how to wash their hands in a really good way.”
Taylor, along with her 4-year-old son, wrote a book, “The Super Silly Wash Your Hands Dance,” back in March 2020 to help other kids learn the importance of washing our hands.
“One of the things I focus on… is giving parents ideas for control and support whenever they can do it,” Taylor said. “As I was starting to see the COVID-19 epidemic begin over in China, I really wanted to concentrate on the things we can control and not instill fear, but instill a little bit of empowerment in kids.”
KXAN met with Taylor and her family Wednesday morning at their home. She recommends when to go from page to practice.
“From the beginning, I would say when they start eating solid foods. It’s really good way to start practice, before and after. And then, of course, when they start using the potty, or after they come in from playing — that’s when you want to focus on really doing it in a way that they get excited about and they have fun doing.”
You can watch her read to them in her Instagram post below:
Taylor is a certified child life specialist at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center’s NICU.
“We work in children’s hospitals and help kids and families cope with illness and hospitalizations and life changes,” Taylor said.
She has seen firsthand the effects of the coronavirus on children and their families.
“In that NICU, we’re having families not only going through a rough time in the hospital and having to leave their babies at night, but they’re also having to deal with all this anxiety that’s happening outside in the world,” Taylor said. “It’s important to acknowledge that it’s difficult during this time.”
This inspired her to write her book. “I’m always trying to create resources that we could send home to the siblings [of NICU newborns] to help kind of connect and bond,” Taylor said. “When premature babies get discharged from the hospital, we need brothers and sisters to be really good at hand washing.”
Her book “adds just an element of fun to a chore that’s actually really important and life saving.”
Taylor’s efforts don’t stop there. She also records and hosts a podcast, “Child Life On Call.”
“I interview parents of children who have an illness or medical condition,” Taylor said. “I did that out of parents feeling isolated and needing a community, and it’s interesting because it’s very relevant now as we’re all very isolated and needing a community.”
She recently interviewed an American working in China after writing her book.
“The thing that I love that she told me, was that families over there aren’t so much focusing on school and studies, and of course that’s a part of what’s happening, but they’ve really leaned into the family being a family unit,” Taylor said. “The number one thing that parents recommend, from China, after being in quarantine for so long, for parents to have, is games.”
So why not make washing hands into one, and wash your hands of stress.