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Advice on handling hygiene issue
#2716119 02/21/18 12:38 PM
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I just started lessons with a 7 year old. First lesson, hands were in the nose and swiping runny nose constantly. Several times I stopped and explained how germs can be transmitted, etc.,and he should keep his hands away from the face, but if he wasn't playing something, despite my instructions to keep hands on piano, they were everywhere but.

Next lesson, after texting mom, asking for assistance in keeping hands off face, he spent the entire lesson scratching his head and eyes. Mom laughed and said she "told him, but he's doing it even more." I've explained to her that we are in a small airless room, sharing the piano, and students need to keep their hands off the face, head, etc.

Other than stopping constantly to have him hand sanitize, (which would be constant), do you have any suggestions? I can't afford to be sick, have a competition coming up not to mention, lost income' I've been fighting something all week, and don't want to have to spend the entire lesson hand sanitizing. And in all honesty, he is so focused on his itching and other issues, how much attention is being focused on the lesson?


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716201 02/21/18 06:19 PM
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My advice is to keep your own hands off your face grin and stop worrying about his.

I see - and touch and handle - kids (& adults) and their muck all the time in my job, but rarely ever catch any infection from them. (In fact, I catch coughs & colds much less often than the average adult despite the fact that I'm exposed to far more germs in my job, as part of my job.) That's because I know my hands are totally contaminated and the germs are just waiting for a portal to enter and infect me. Any mucous membrane - eyes, nose, mouth (basically, face) - is what those clever nasties are looking for, and what I don't give them, until I have the opportunity to wash my own hands thoroughly with soap & water (not "disinfect" with alcohol wipes which are barely better than useless) and then dry them thoroughly. And even then I still keep my hands off my face. People who frequently touch their own faces, or who frequently hug & kiss other people (especially kids) are exactly what germs adore. Touchy-feely people, beware! grin

BTW, everything infected kids touch - from door knobs to piano stools to piano keys to books to......you - will be contaminated. But that doesn't mean you have to infect yourself from them.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
bennevis #2716216 02/21/18 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
My advice is to keep your own hands off your face grin and stop worrying about his.

.


Yes, exactly. "Don't touch your face" is basically my mantra while teaching little ones! Wipe down the keys after his lesson as well.
A child that age probably doesn't have the self-control to suppress the nose-wiping and scratching, so probably best not to make an issue of it even if it is gross.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716217 02/21/18 07:31 PM
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How about give him a pair of squishy toys that fit in his hands for those moments during the lesson that he's not playing the piano? Squeezing them will give his hands something else to do when he's not actively playing the instrument. He can set the toys in his lap when it's time to play again, and at the end of his lesson, he can drop the toys into a box or small container that you keep in your studio, ready for him (and only him) to use every time he comes to his lesson.

Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716225 02/21/18 07:55 PM
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Good advice from bennevis - a reminder which most of us probably need from time to time. The germs are being offered but we don't have to take them smile

Also, the fact that he seemed to be touching his face etc MORE after having it drawn to his attention just probably means that he was listening. He had it drawn to his attention and now he's thinking about it more. You know, "don't think of a pink elephant". smile


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716233 02/21/18 08:29 PM
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All my youth students know the drill: enter house, immediately go to bathroom and wash their hands to prepare for their lesson. I join them! I wash my hands in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they're actually using the soap on the bathroom counter. Start with clean hands, at the very least!

I use those Clorox wipes (they don't have bleach in them, just whatever magical anti-bacterial stuff) after kids who have a runny nose or sneezed everywhere, and during my weekly deep clean of the studio. Doing it for years, no damage to the key tops.

Where I lose my mind is when they stick their fingers in their mouth, the thumb suckers and nail biters. Seeing that string of saliva between their hands and mouth as they reach for the keys, aghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! But I just clean it up and move on.

I rarely get sick. I never touch my face with my dirty hands. I agree with everyone above, you watch out for you and you'll be fine!

I'll tell you what works for the slightly older set: telling them all the gross things the little ones do at the keyboard: the sneezing, nose picking, thumb sucking, nail biting... It makes them really think about where their own hands have been, and whose hands have been on the keys BEFORE them. Grossed out one kid so badly, he dropped his nail biting habit!

Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716265 02/21/18 10:53 PM
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I spend time with about 100 preschoolers every day. Unlike some of our more righteous or saintly forum members, I get sick about a normal amount.


Keeping my hands away from my face is a good idea as is washing as often as is feasible.
Teaching the kid to handle a fidget toy seems like a sensible possibility. Some fidgets are dishwasher safe; you could get a mesh bag that holds them.

My (not piano) students are 3-5 years old, and all but the most severely involved can learn to keep hands down and to cough and sneeze into their elbow. A typically developing 7-year-old could learn not to wipe his nose with his hands. I'd start by stating my expectation in a positive way. Say "Use a tissue" instead of "Don't wipe your nose with you hand." Say "Hands down" or "Please put your hands in your lap" instead of "Don't put your fingers in your mouth."

I'm not bugged by a kid touching his hair.
I have nothing against dousing the kid with hand sanitizer every time he touches his eyes, nose, or mouth. (same for other body areas, which happens frequently in my biz, but I teach kids with special needs.)
I have nothing against sending the kid to conduct a proper hand wash following contact with body fluids.
Any time there is "a string of saliva" is a good time for a little hygiene intervention.
If the kid sneezes on your piano, it's an opportunity for the kid to learn how and why to clean it up.

Remind parents that sick kids--even a little bit sick--should stay home.

For real fun, you could get a petrie dish and culture his fingerprints. Kids usually find this completely horrifying.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
malkin #2716268 02/21/18 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
I'd start by stating my expectation in a positive way. Say "Use a tissue" instead of "Don't wipe your nose with you hand." Say "Hands down" or "Please put your hands in your lap" instead of "Don't put your fingers in your mouth."
In my experience, telling kids what to DO rather than what NOT to do, wherever possible, is a technique that makes a huge difference. To everything. smile


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
bennevis #2716494 02/22/18 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
My advice is to keep your own hands off your face grin and stop worrying about his.

I see - and touch and handle - kids (& adults) and their muck all the time in my job, but rarely ever catch any infection from them. (In fact, I catch coughs & colds much less often than the average adult despite the fact that I'm exposed to far more germs in my job, as part of my job.) That's because I know my hands are totally contaminated and the germs are just waiting for a portal to enter and infect me. Any mucous membrane - eyes, nose, mouth (basically, face) - is what those clever nasties are looking for, and what I don't give them, until I have the opportunity to wash my own hands thoroughly with soap & water (not "disinfect" with alcohol wipes which are barely better than useless) and then dry them thoroughly. And even then I still keep my hands off my face. People who frequently touch their own faces, or who frequently hug & kiss other people (especially kids) are exactly what germs adore. Touchy-feely people, beware! grin

BTW, everything infected kids touch - from door knobs to piano stools to piano keys to books to......you - will be contaminated. But that doesn't mean you have to infect yourself from them.


bennevis, your post made me laugh, but I absolutely keep my hands away from my face when giving lessons. Unlike you, I use hand wipes, sanitizer, don't touch germy doorknobs, have a "shoe free" home. So kids that walk in the door, and stick fingers up their noses gross me out. I am not a "touchy feely" person and I understand that I can't control everything, but I can control what happens in my studio.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
malkin #2716495 02/22/18 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
I spend time with about 100 preschoolers every day. Unlike some of our more righteous or saintly forum members, I get sick about a normal amount.


Keeping my hands away from my face is a good idea as is washing as often as is feasible.
Teaching the kid to handle a fidget toy seems like a sensible possibility. Some fidgets are dishwasher safe; you could get a mesh bag that holds them.

My (not piano) students are 3-5 years old, and all but the most severely involved can learn to keep hands down and to cough and sneeze into their elbow. A typically developing 7-year-old could learn not to wipe his nose with his hands. I'd start by stating my expectation in a positive way. Say "Use a tissue" instead of "Don't wipe your nose with you hand." Say "Hands down" or "Please put your hands in your lap" instead of "Don't put your fingers in your mouth."

I'm not bugged by a kid touching his hair.
I have nothing against dousing the kid with hand sanitizer every time he touches his eyes, nose, or mouth. (same for other body areas, which happens frequently in my biz, but I teach kids with special needs.)
I have nothing against sending the kid to conduct a proper hand wash following contact with body fluids.
Any time there is "a string of saliva" is a good time for a little hygiene intervention.
If the kid sneezes on your piano, it's an opportunity for the kid to learn how and why to clean it up.

Remind parents that sick kids--even a little bit sick--should stay home.

For real fun, you could get a petrie dish and culture his fingerprints. Kids usually find this completely horrifying.


malkin, love your post. I thought about getting a fidget for kids who can't keep still.

My youngest students are 6 years old. My grandchild learned to use his sleeve and cover his cough at teh age of 4 in preschool. This 7 year old is bright. At the last lesson, he immediately stuck his finger in his nose, so I just calmly handed him the sanitizer, he smiled, and didn't do it again! BTW, he didn't "touch" his hair,. He dug and scratched every second that he wasn't playing the piano. I pictured hundreds of little lice scurrying about. smile


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716496 02/22/18 05:38 PM
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I am not one of the fortunate teachers who "never get sick" or are immune to germs. For most of my life, I've had a less than stellar immune system, despite eating well, exercising, etc. I have to take extra care so I don't spend half of my days home sick. It's just as simple as that. I am extremely clear about my sick policy and give parents every opportunity to NOT sign up with me if they don't agree. When the student's lesson was over, mom thanked me and complimented my teaching and how I worked with her son. I hope she works with him on simple hygiene rules that kids are taught as early as in preschool.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
pianist_lady #2716497 02/22/18 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by bennevis
My advice is to keep your own hands off your face grin and stop worrying about his.

.


Yes, exactly. "Don't touch your face" is basically my mantra while teaching little ones! Wipe down the keys after his lesson as well.
A child that age probably doesn't have the self-control to suppress the nose-wiping and scratching, so probably best not to make an issue of it even if it is gross.


My 4 year old grandchild covers his mouth when he coughs and uses his sleeve to swipe his nose. And I didn't teach him that - he learned in preschool.

Some cultures wear masks when they are sick so they don't spread their germs. Maybe I need to move out of the U.S.A. smile


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716512 02/22/18 07:18 PM
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Doesn't one usually wipe one's nose with a tissue? (The sleeve thing is sort of grossing me out.)

Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716515 02/22/18 07:30 PM
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keystring, yes, one should. I always keep a box of tissues on the piano, but I guess for some, the hand, fingers work better. gross is right.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716518 02/22/18 07:48 PM
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Well, between sleeve and sticky icky hands - sleeves win. (shudder)

Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716522 02/22/18 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows

My 4 year old grandchild covers his mouth when he coughs and uses his sleeve to swipe his nose. And I didn't teach him that - he learned in preschool.


My guess is that this was peer-to-peer learning rather than a teacher directed activity.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
chasingrainbows #2716560 02/23/18 12:40 AM
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6-7 is the prime age for nervous tics in otherwise normal children. Could that be what you have here?
(If so, you might just have to wait for him to outgrow it... or let another teacher take him on while he waits to outgrow it...)


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
keystring #2716566 02/23/18 02:20 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Doesn't one usually wipe one's nose with a tissue? (The sleeve thing is sort of grossing me out.)
I was starting to think I was the only one grossed out by the sleeve.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
currawong #2716617 02/23/18 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by currawong
Originally Posted by keystring
Doesn't one usually wipe one's nose with a tissue? (The sleeve thing is sort of grossing me out.)

I was starting to think I was the only one grossed out by the sleeve.


I'm so desensitized that the sleeve wipe is one of the least gross things kids do with that stuff.


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Re: Advice on handling hygiene issue
currawong #2716638 02/23/18 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by currawong
Originally Posted by keystring
Doesn't one usually wipe one's nose with a tissue? (The sleeve thing is sort of grossing me out.)
I was starting to think I was the only one grossed out by the sleeve.


Mythbusters did an episode on this.

The elbow is far more effective at catching the spray from a cough or sneeze than a handkerchief or tissue.

I think it's this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vw0hIs2LEg


gotta go practice
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