Ways to Keep your Kids Healthy This School Year

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It is official school has started!! Even though our local school districts implement safety regulations and health standards, your children still may be exposed to unwanted health risks from the flu virus to head lice.
The truth is that many children become afflicted by preventable illnesses each year. So, while you can’t protect them from absolutely everything, you can do small things to protect the health of your kids. Here are 10 ways to keep your kids as healthy as possible this school year.

  1. Hand-washing comes first!
  2. School nurses cite hand-washing as one of the most effective tools for kids to stop the spread of germs from one child to another. Kids as young as kindergarten should know to wash their hands with soap and water – not just a quick rinse under the tap – before and after eating, after going to the bathroom and after blowing their nose. This goes a long way to reducing the spread of germs in a school environment.

  3. Teach them how to Sneeze
  4. Educate your child about how to cough (mouth covered, or into a tissue), sneeze (into the crook of an arm), to prevent the spray of germs into the air. Your child should also blow his or her nose carefully into a tissue that should be immediately discarded — never a handkerchief that gets re-used.

  5. Stay on top of immunizations
  6. Dr. Clifford follows the recommended schedule for immunizations throughout early childhood to ensure the best health for your little ones. Make certain that your child is current on all prescribed shots. If you are unsure of the status of your child, please call the office to see if you are up to date. Catch up immunization schedules are also offered.

  7. Stay in bed when sick!
  8. Most outbreaks of colds or fevers stem from one child coming to school already sick. Not only may this delay the child’s recovery, it also may expose other parent volunteers, teachers and classmates to the contagion. If you are worried that your child may be a risk to others, please consider getting an appt to determine the extent of that risk and advise about when to return to school. We understand the pressures to keep your children in school, and often they may return safely, but if they are acutely ill with a fever, home is the safest place.

  9. Over-sharing lunchtime food is not good
  10. Kids love to trade foods at lunchtime, and that’s fine. However, discourage your child from drinking from the same water bottles, juice boxes, or milk cartons as other children – explain that that’s how viruses and bacteria can spread from one child to another.

  11. Help keep kids’ active
  12. It’s a sad commentary, but in our laptop and digital-device-ruled world, kids should be strongly encouraged to play outside. Parents should set time aside for play. Fresh air and physical exercise after school are crucial not just for your child’s mental health but for his or her physical well-being. Exercise boosts immunity!

  13. Don’t forget sleep
  14. Well-intentioned parents today tend to keep kids so occupied with organized activities that often kids are over-tired. Sure, soccer, ballet, football and basketball are all wonderful – but your child needs a good night’s sleep each night to stay healthy. Your average child should be sleeping 10-12 hours per night, even your high schoolers need more sleep than you would think. Ask Dr. Clifford if you are not sure on how much sleep your growing child needs.

  15. Breakfast, the most important meal
  16. Every cliché about breakfast being the most important meal of the day is true. It’s fuel for both brain function and the physical demands of school. Good nutrition is crucial to a high-functioning immune system, making breakfast a direct contributor to your child’s health in school. Breakfast should include healthy foods, with fresh fruits, proteins and whole grains. Avoid sugary foods in the morning as it may make your child more irritable and overly stimulated. Furthermore, with lunchbox meals and after-school snacks, keep it healthy – fruit rather than junk food, dairy drinks as opposed to sugary soft drinks, and raw nuts will keep your child healthy and feeling full at the same time.

  17. Avoid lice
  18. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 6 million and 12 million infestations of lice happen each year to children between the ages of 3 and 11. Reduce your child’s chances of getting lice by warning him or her not to share combs, brushes, scarves or hats.

  19. Watch for signs of stress
  20. Even in the early grades, kids are under a surprising amount of stress. Take time with your kids to find out what’s weighing on their mind – and try to reduce their level of anxiety about grades, competition or other issues. Kids can be every bit as victimized by stress – which takes a toll on general health and immunity to disease – as adults can.

Here at Clifford Family Medicine, we know that school brings many challenges, some of which include illness. Our hope is to help you limit this threat. With following the tips above, you can reduce the chances of your child contracting a serious illness. Come see us if you have any questions concerning the health of your children, where patients are FAMILY.