Experienced parents know to brace themselves as their children head back to school. Along with complaints about homework and exciting tales of new friends, children bring home a slew of different illnesses and viruses.
School-age children, especially the littlest learners, tend to get sicker during the school year than during summer break. Respiratory viruses are common as the seasons change. Children are in close quarters during their day and these viruses spread quite rapidly.
Tips to keep your child healthy this year
Immature immune systems, lack of hygiene skills, poor nutrition, and stress play a role in the spread of illness. But back-to-school time doesn’t have to mean coughs, colds, stomach bugs, pink eye, head lice, and the like.
Here at Forest Urgent Care LIC and Forest Hills, Dr. Waiho Lum and Dr. Ping Wong are happy to care for your child all year round. As the time for books and buses approaches, we offer these 7 suggestions to keep your child healthy and eager to learn this school year.
1. Make sleep a priority.
It’s difficult for parents and kids to get back in the practice of “early to bed,” but it’s crucial to your child’s immune system, how they handle stress and their success as a student. Introduce an earlier bedtime before the start of school. Implement a hard stop on screen time an hour or two before bed to improve your child’s sleep quality. This works for mom and dad as well.
2. A nutritious breakfast is a must.
Your child can’t learn on an empty stomach. Make sure you provide them with a healthy meal to start their day, even on the run. Some protein, dairy, and fruit make a good combination. Make sugary breakfast cereals and pastries a once-in-a-long-while breakfast treat, not daily fare.
3. Use good hygiene to prevent sickness.
Practice healthy handwashing at home. Have them wash their hands after coughing, blowing their nose, or using the bathroom. And remind them to wash their hands before eating. Wash long enough to sing a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to ensure they suds up thoroughly enough to reduce their risk of spreading and getting viruses.
To prevent the spread of germs, teach your child not to touch their eyes or mouth until they thoroughly wash their hands. Never share utensils or cups with friends. And they must always cough or sneeze into their elbow.
4. Keep lunch satisfying and healthy.
Whether you pack your child’s lunch, or they do, make sure it’s colorful, nutritious, and fun. Pack a tasty rainbow of vegetables and fruit, and include protein for strong muscles. Include a fun indulgence, such as baked potato chips or yogurt for dessert. Avoid sugary and processed foods.
5. Tame that hungry after-school beast.
Kids have child-sized stomachs, so they need to eat smaller amounts of food more often. Your child may arrive home from school with a growling tummy. Keep nutritious foods handy for after-school snacks. For instance, offer peanut butter or cheese on whole-grain crackers or veggies and greek yogurt dip to fuel your child from homework time to dinner.
6. Watch your child for signs of anxiety and stress.
Even the youngest scholars are affected by schoolwork stress and social pressure. Be on the lookout for signs your child is being bullied or is feeling overwhelmed. Keep the lines of communication open so they will come to you.
Learning ways to cope with stress can serve children their whole lives, so introducing them now is a preventive step for good mental health. Help them practice relaxation techniques such as quiet time and breathing exercises. Exercise, journaling, or simply talking things out with you are other good practices to help with stress and overall emotional health.
7. Keep up to date on vaccines.
Immunizations are an essential part of keeping your child healthy and protected from diseases. Making sure your child is up to date on all the necessary shots ahead of the first day of class just makes sense. Our kid-friendly offices offer all of the childhood vaccines.
Your ally in pediatric health
All kinds of urgent health issues, such as strep throat, head lice, and playground and sports-related injuries, can pose a risk as school begins. At Forest Urgent Care LIC and Forest Hills, we offer an array of services, including pediatric care, school and sports physicals, and vaccines.
We’re open seven days a week and have evening hours, too. Walk-ins are always welcome. Or you can contact one of our offices in Forest Hills and Long Island City, New York, or book an appointment online to give your child a healthy start to the school year.