PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) - Doctors agree, the best way to stop H1N1 is to wash your hands, but how do you get your kids to do it? A kid from Utah County decided to find out. And you might be surprised at the results of his experiment.
"There was a sick kid in here, playing with the puzzle pieces. He had a runny nose and coughed a lot. There's probably germs on everything."
That's what Hyrum Grenny told eighty different children in several different groups before he told them to put together a large puzzle. He warned them about the germs on the puzzle pieces. He told them to wash before eating, but when cupcakes arrived, all of the kids apparently forgot.
"I just couldn't believe it," Grenny says, "I had my head in my hands."
But he didn't give up. The next time around Grenny not only told the kids about the germs, he showed them the hand sanitizer, posted reminders nearby and then appointed a peer who led the way. Only then did the kids choose clean before cupcakes.
"Any behavior you are trying to help your children adopt requires many kinds of influence for them to change their habits," Hyrum's dad Joseph Grenny says.
Now watching the experiment together, father and son say a few things stand out. Verbal reminders don't work unless they are combined with visuals and family members or friends leading by example.
"So parents and adults seem to be doing better at it, but kids are the primary transmission mechanism for flu. They get it at school, bring it home, they pass it along. So the fact that mom and dad are sanitizing is not enough," Joseph Grenny says.
The experiment got one kid at least to make big changes in his hand washing behavior. Hyrum says after what he saw, his hands, and even his friend's hands have never been cleaner.
If you want to watch Hyrum's entire experiment for yourself go to www.crucialskills.com/2009/09/all-washed-up/ And by the way, Hyrum's next experiment is coming up later this month. It's on kids and their spending habits, just in time for Christmas.