Prevent coronavirus spread: Don’t touch your face

People of all ages touch their face an average of 23 times per hour. If it’s hard for parents to stop touching their faces, how can they help their kids?

Touching your face may be a habit you don’t realize you have. One study shows that a person can touch their face up to 23 times per hour. Norton Children’s wants every child to be a “Super Kid.” Being a Norton Children’s Super Kid means doing activities that prevent spread of the coronavirus. Super Kids wash their hands, wear a mask and cough into their elbow. But one of the hardest tasks a Super Kid can do (it’s hard for parents, too!) is to not touch your face. How can parents help?

How to help kids stop touching their faces

Breaking the habit of touching your face is challenging at any age. Even if your family is diligent about hand-washing and using hand sanitizer regularly, keeping hands away from eyes, nose, mouth and ears is crucial to staying healthy.

Children as young as 3 years old can understand the concept of germs. Teaching them about germs in an age-appropriate way can help them become invested in the goal of not touching their faces and the other aspects of the Super Kid pledge.

Super Kids help keep themselves and their friends and family healthier by completing healthy actions. Being a Norton Children’s Super Kid means pledging to:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Cough into your elbow
  • Not touch your face
  • Keep your hands to yourself

Children often respond better to positive reinforcement rather than correction. Praising a child while they aren’t touching their face can be more helpful than telling them not to do it.

“Parents can say, ‘Good job not touching your face!’” said Maria T. Bowling, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Windy Hills. “You could offer little incentives for not touching their faces — something that would motivate them for showing good, healthy behavior.”

While positive reinforcement can help motivate kids, it’s still crucial to point out when they are touching their face. After you remind them enough times, it becomes a conditioned response, and they will take their hands away from their face. Since touching the face is a good habit to break for people of all ages, you could turn it into a family goal.

“You can try to make it a game,” Dr. Bowling said. “Ask your child to remind you when you touch your face; and you will remind them when you see them touching their face. Tally them up at the end of the day. As you watch your family’s progress, you can set up goals with rewards along the way to stay motivated and help each other break the habit.”

Take the Super Kid pledge

Be sure to post pictures of your Super Kid wearing a mask by tagging @NortonChildrens and

Actions to help jump-start success

Families can take actions that can help minimize face-touching or make it safer if it has to happen.

  • Keep hair pulled away from the face: Hair is one of the biggest reasons people touch their faces; moving it away from the eyes, stray hairs tickling the face. Keeping a child’s hair trimmed or long hair pulled back can help limit some of those unconscious times they may touch their face.
  • Keep tissues with you at all times: If your child has an itch they need to scratch, having tissues on hand can help them avoid skin contact while doing so.
  • Provide them with something else to touch/play with: Fidget spinners, fidget cubes or a favorite toy can help keep them occupied and hopefully not touch their face.