Habits can keep kids healthy
When my kids were young, I loved seeing them come home with handmade arts and crafts that I could proudly display on the refrigerator. Like all moms, I wasn’t quite so happy when my young ones would come home with the sniffles – or worse.
With school back in session, there’s no better time to help your kids develop a few healthy habits that will keep them feeling well and enjoying a wonderful school year. Here are five useful tips I would like to share with you, both as a longtime pediatrician – and as a mom.
Sharing isn’t always caring
Seeing our kids act generously and share with their classmates is a wonderful thing, except for when it comes to food and beverages – and the germs that can tag along. Unfortunately, it’s so easy for that water bottle to pass cold or flu germs from friend to friend. Then, once those kids aren’t feeling well, the potential for further exposure really takes off. Sick kiddos infect classmates and bring the illness home to their siblings and parents.
Remember to wash those little paws
It’s amazing how teaching young ones the importance of good hand washing can make such a significant difference in their likelihood of avoiding cold or flu. I always tell parents that in addition to verbally reminding children, it works even better to make it a family habit or ritual to wash your hands before enjoying a meal – or after a sneeze. Kids learn by hearing AND seeing, so it’s really effective (and kind of fun) when parents set the example and make hitting the sink for some soap and water a fun habit. Hopefully well-trained kids will take those good hygiene habits to school and share what they’ve learned with their classmates. Now there is something that would be great to see spreading from kid to kid!
Speaking of sneezing…
Lots of moms and dads would think you were crazy if you asked if they know how to sneeze correctly. Ask your kids how to handle a sneeze. Their answer might surprise you. I have been amazed to see how quickly kids are learning and adopting a “new way” of sneezing that has been promoted during recent years. Instead of sneezing into your hands, it really is so much better for you and everyone around if you sneeze into your elbow or crook of your arm. This keeps the germs off your hands, which obviously spread droplets from a sneeze to everything you touch. Also, people are much less likely to come into contact with that part of your arm or shirt. Maybe kids are teaching their parents this healthy habit. Wouldn’t that be great?
Sick kids need sick days
As a mother myself, I know it’s not always easy to keep a child home from school. This is especially true for single-parent families or for parents who both work. But here is what I tell parents: Your student staying home and actually getting over an illness will always be best for them and for the parents in the long run. This is especially important when the child has a fever. Those illnesses aren’t typically going to vanish on their own. Catching an illness early – before it blows up into something even worse – will usually mean fewer sick days in the long run.
You never lose when you snooze
Getting good sleep night after night amounts to wonderful prevention for your children. When they are rested and fell well, their bodies are simply better prepared to put up a good fight and fend off possible illnesses. The child’s own immune system will always be their best line of defense.
These tips may sound simple, but they sure are effective. Your whole family will benefit from these healthy habits.
To all the parents, grandparents and other guardians out there: Hang in there and I commend you in what you are doing to raise our youngest Yumans. What you are doing isn’t easy, but it sure is important. Best of luck – and be well.
Dr. Patti Perry works as a Pediatrician at Yuma Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Center.