The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned both doctors and parents to be on the alert for enterovirus in kids, following outbreaks in several states and additional reports coming in every day. At this point, the best thing you can do to keep your kids safe is simple: make sure they wash their hands.

And by "wash" we don't mean to merely rinse them under the faucet: be diligent and thorough to really clean them. Here are five ways to help encourage good hand washing:

Explain the Importance

Often, when you take time explain to your kids the reason for doing something, they’re more likely to take it to heart. This makes them feel more independent than insisting they just do what they’re told. Start out by explaining to your kids why washing their hands is important and what could happen if they get sick. You don’t have to scare them, but if they know how important hand washing is for good health, they may pay more attention to it in their daily lives.

Lead by Example

You know how good your kids are at repeating what you say and picking up your habits, so help them get better at hand washing by leading by example. If they see you washing your hands, they’ll be more apt to do the same. When you’re done in the bathroom, let them in to see how you clean up. Before you start making lunch or dinner, have them come in and wash their hands and help. Show them your good habits so they can develop their own good habits.

Make It Fun

Making hand washing fun is a great way to get kids interested. These days there are a lot of products you can get to help your child enjoy the hand-washing process. There are soaps that change color when your child has washed her hands long enough. You can get a soap dispenser that leaves a stamp on your child’s hand when she pumps and then disappears when she’s washed properly. Or you could even use a washable marker to show your child how long she should be washing to get clean. You can show your child that singing the birthday song while she’s washing her hands will measure how long she needs to wash. You can even give out rewards for good hand-washing habits.

Carry Wipes and Antibacterial Lotions

To help your kids keep hand washing on their minds even when you’re running around, carry hand wipes and antibacterial lotions with you. Then there are no excuses for not cleaning up. You don’t need to go overboard with it, but when food, animals or bathrooms are involved, being quick with the wet wipes can help your kids form lasting habits and prevent them from picking up and sharing germs. You could even send them to school and play dates with wipes in their backpacks so they always know where to reach for them.

Keep Reminding Them

Finally, you don’t have to frighten them or turn into a nag, but the more you remind them about hand washing after they’ve used the restroom or are about to eat, the more it becomes part of their daily lives. Just keep bringing it up. Ask every time. Talk about it when you wash your hands. Sing the song. Make a thing of it. You’ll know you’ve made an impression when they finally say, “Mom, we get it. We always wash our hands.” Then they’re set.

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