We are living in a building block and at the entrance of the building, there is a box like this

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When I press it, it sprays alcohol-like liquid, which is not thick and sticky like gel.

When we about to enter the building, I ask my children "hold out your hands under this box to disinfect them".

I don't feel it is natural to say that.

Is it natural to say this to a child "hold out your hands under this box to disinfect them"?

  • 2
    Not really. That's not a "box". It has a name. It's a "dispenser". You may as well teach your child the correct name for it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 11, 2023 at 16:54
  • I would start by saying "Put your hands..." Hold out puts the emphasis on sticking out your hands more than on where you put them, and "Hold out your hand(s)" is what we say to someone when we want to put something in their hand(s).
    – stangdon
    Apr 11, 2023 at 17:32
  • It depends on the age of the child. You might make a game of it for a toddler, but a simple "Don't forget to sterilise your hands" should suffice for an older child who understands the purpose of the dispenser. Same idea as taking off your shoes at the front door. Apr 11, 2023 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


What do you suppose the child will say? Your child is often assumed to be silent, but they can speak.

So I'd start with "Remember to clean your hands", and go from there.

You might want to use that longer phrase the first time someone comes to the building. It depends rather on their experience of the world. Do they often use such machines? Do they know about what "disinfect" means? Do they know words like "dispenser"? Are they competent enough to understand spoken instructions or do they need a demonstration?

If I was speaking to an adult I would say something like "There is a hand sanitiser over there". I would assume that the adult would know about such things. If the adult can't get it to work then I'd say "You just hold your hands below it".

If I were speaking to a child I might say "Let me show you how to get your hands clean. {demonstration}. Now you try {child copies}. Now you must remember to do this every time you come into the building...."

As always, remember it is a dialogue so remember to add places for the child to speak.

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