The back-to-school to-do list of clothes and supply shopping, immunization updates and transitions to earlier bedtimes, can make us moms feel like we’ve run a marathon. But before you let out that big exhale of relief that you got it all done, let’s squeeze in just one more category before the finish line — keeping your student healthy.
A few proactive measures can go a long way toward minimal sick days and all the doctor’s visits, missed work, and make-up assignments that come with them.
1. Revisit the basics for a strong health foundation.
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Make sure all your child’s immunizations are up to date. And while you’re at it, review basic hygiene practices, such as washing hands after using the restroom and before eating, and sneezing into an elbow. At the preschool and kindergarten level, these disease-prevention steps are thoroughly emphasized, but they may not get as much attention as our kids get older.
2. Make sleep a priority.
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Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things any of us can do to keep our immune systems in top shape, and to recover during illness. Establish consistent bedtimes and wake-up times for your children.
3. Keep it structured.
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Cut down on emotional and mental stress that can erode health by sticking to routines for homework time and after-school activities. Schedules, when not too rigid or overdone, create structure and security.
4. Eat your Wheaties!
Do not skip the breakfast of champions, whether it’s eaten at home or at school. Breakfast literally breaks the night time fast and gives kids the fuel they need to stay comfortable and focused until lunchtime.
5. Dress for success.
Supervise appropriate clothing and footwear choices. Sturdy shoes keep jungle gym warriors from suffering sprained ankles and the like, while weather-appropriate attire prevents chills and overheating. When in doubt, or if a battle should ensue, compromise on layers.
6. Forestall the need for mental health days.
Yes, even children may be trying to claim mental health days if problems such as bullying are leading to stomach and headaches and emotional distress.
While most schools are very proactive these days with formal anti-bullying policies and training for students and staff, none of that will help you if your child is a victim and keeping it to himself or herself.
Open lines of communication are the best way to know if your child is having trouble with a bully at school. If a concern does arise, contact the appropriate school administrator immediately. Go to the superintendent if your child does not get relief.
If you sense that your child may need to talk to a mental health professional and is between the ages of 10-17, LiveHealth Online provides convenient access to licensed therapists and psychologists in all 50 states plus Washington DC. You can review the profiles of the available therapists and psychologists (certified to treat patients in the state where the patient resides) and schedule an appointment with the one they would like to see. These visits can take place in the privacy of your own home or anywhere that is convenient or comfortable for your child. Learn more here.
7. Take advantage of the system.
The National Association of School Nurses suggests you learn the lay of the land at your child’s school. Ask if there is a full-time registered school nurse in the building all day, every day.
Find out about the school or district’s wellness policy. Does the school, for example, have formal programs for dealing with such issues as nutrition, activity, stress and mental health?
8. Know how to recognize a serious sickness.
What should you do if the inevitable illness arises despite your best efforts? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you keep your child home from school if your child has a fever, defined as 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Continue to keep your child at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Make an appointment to see your pediatrician if the fever lasts more than 72 hours, or if you have concerns.
9. Get ready for competition.
Let’s not forget sports. Not all health issues are of the communicable disease variety. The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us that as middle-schoolers get bigger, stronger, faster and more aggressive, their incidence of sport injuries goes up.
Inquire about the practice culture at your school and for your child’s sport: Are appropriate water breaks taken? Are kids forced to push themselves in extreme temperatures?
Make sure your student athlete has a current sports physical. Insist on proper protective gear, such as proper-fitting helmets and face masks.
Edited by Jody Smith
This post was sponsored by: LiveHealth® OnlineRead more in Health Technology Insider
1) The National Association of School Nurses website, visited July 5, 2016. https://www.nasn.org/AboutNASN/MediaRoom/NewsReleaseView/tabid/765/smid/1406/ArticleID/859/Default.aspx
2) The Centers for Disease Control website visited July 15, 2016. www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/a_flu_guide_for_parents.pdf
3) The American Academy of Pediatrics website visited July 7, 2016.