Hand-washing High Prompting
This video shows an early stage of teaching a child to independently wash and dry her hands.
Before beginning, it's important to make sure you have everything your child will need to be successful, such as hand soap and a hand towel. It may be best to use a pump-style soap dispenser, rather than bar soap, as this style is what your child is most likely to encounter in public restrooms. These things should be kept in the same area throughout training, in order to help your child follow all the hand washing steps successfully.
It's also important to remember to check the water temperature, ensuring it's not too hot. If you've already identified a preferred reinforcer for your child, such as a toy or treat, make sure it's readily available for you to immediately provide to your child after a successful teaching trial.
The therapist will begin by telling the child what she wants her to do using one clear, brief statement, such as "wash your hands."
During the early stages of teaching, your child will likely need more physical guidance to complete all steps successfully. Notice that the therapist is standing behind the child, physically guiding her through each step of the hand-washing task by maintaining light contact with her hands or wrist areas.
During early teaching opportunities, your child will likely need more physical guidance through all of the steps.
Each time your child washes and dries his or her hands, it's important to consistently provide guidance through all steps in the same order. This will help your child remember to complete all of the steps.
During later stages, as your child begins to complete more steps on his or her own, you'll provide less physical guidance by moving your hands further up the child's arms, such as at the forearm or elbow as needed. Remember, each child is different, and will start to become independent at these steps at different rates. For many children, it's likely to take many trials over a period of days or weeks for them to begin mastering each step.
If at any time your child is resisting the learning trials, you may need to step back and provide time to calm down before trying again, but it's very important limit any attention during this time.
If your child is consistently resisting learning trials, it may be best to discontinue until you have the chance to consult with a professional behavior therapist, such as a BCBA or BCaBA.