Habits can keep kids healthy

Yuma Sun - Raising Yuma Families - - WHAT’S INSIDE... - BY DR. PATTI PERRY

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.

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