Note: With all activities, safety comes first. These activities need to be supervised by an adult and may need to be modified if you child has a lot of hand and arm strength.
Wash Your Hands
What we hear repeatedly about COVID 19 is the benefit of frequent handwashing. Many children hate to wash their hands, but love playing in water. What might be the problem? Often it is the adult “helping” them. As adults we are hurrying to complete the task and often take control of the child’s hands to help them. This sets up a pattern of resistance from the child. Like many other activities, it is often best to practice skills when you can play at it.
If you child can sit or stand with our without support, use a rubber basin or large bowl filled with soapy water and let your child play in it. You can offer scented soap and start the activity by rubbing the soap on to wet hands. You may find that liquid soap can be fun, but also consider a soap that floats or has an interesting shape or texture. You can also let the child play with liquid soap on a cookie tray and then end the activity my rinsing hands in a tub of water, the sink or with a wash clothe.
If your child needs support to sit or stand, working from behind the child, use hand-under-hand while you wash your hands. Offer your child scented soaps letting him smell the scent before gently rubbing on his hands.
Slow your pace and just enjoy sharing the sensation of water, scent and slippery soap with your child. Consider adding things like nailbrushes, sponges, or washcloths to the water for additional scrubbing time. Don’t settle for just the amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, extend the activity as much as your child’s interest and your own time allows. Repeat often throughout the day. Consider bring siblings into the mix.
Simply put interesting things in the tub and let your child explore and/or offer items one at a time to your child using hand-under-hand. In addition to rubber duckies, and containers for pouring, consider adding other items that the child might encounter at home.
In these next two activities, we are targeting a child who can sit unsupported or with minimal support and has some ability to grasp or bat.
Most everyone enjoys playing in the bathtub, so I challenge you to create an Active Learning environment.
Most children resist having their teeth brushed, but children with significant disabilities who have often had medical procedures involving their mouth are especially resistant. Also children who have sensory integration challenges, were born prematurely, or have dental issues don’t like things in their mouths, including toothbrushes.
It is easier to work on tolerating things being put inside their mouths during a play activity when you can take time for the child to control the amount of time or area of the mouth that is involved. You might begin by giving the child several different vibrating tooth brushes to explore either by holding the brush and letting them put their mouth on it or by placing it on a Resonance Board or on a Position board for them to explore as they will.
Place a collection of regular toothbrushes in easy to open cases and let the play with pulling the cases apart and dumping out the toothbrushes. Let the child play with the toothbrushes and empty cases how they choose.
Hang toothbrushes on a Position Board or Tabletop mobile for exploring.
Place toothbrushes, spoons, or Z-brushes into a tray made of styrofoam and let them pull them out.
Playing with Vibrating Toothbrush
In this video an adult offers a vibrating toothbrush for a young boy to explore using his mouth.
Kayden Playing with a Toothbrush
You may also place an vibrating toothbrush in the child’s hand using a buncher. Let the child play with the way it feels and the sound it makes as it touches different parts of his or her body, a Resonance Board or table top, a pan, and other objects or surfaces.
Using a Buncher to Hold a Toothbrush
In this video Patty Obrzut demonstrates how to use a buncher with a toothbrush.
We all know how important washing hands is for anyone’s health and safety. Some children resist handwashing because it is something that is done to them. Here are some ways to let your child learn about handwashing during play. Take a cookie sheet or shallow pan and squirt dishwashing liquid or hand soap in the bottom. Let your child explore by patting, scratching, or rubbing. Add some water to the mix a little at a time to let your child play. Finish by pouring water on his or her hands or rinsing under a faucet.
If a child is ready to use a potty, you may want to add some things to engage the child so they will stay on the toilet for the time needed.