Article by Jennifer Dobson
Colds and kids seem to go together, especially when they reach school age. The nature of the school day – close quarters, lots of children playing together and sharing things – increases each student’s risk of contracting an illness. Yet families can take an active role in making sure those risks are reduced by doing a few simple things. Pass these tips onto parents, and perhaps students in your classroom will experience a few less cases of colds and flu this year.Wash those hands. The number one thing kids should do to prevent illness or disease is thorough and frequent hand-washing. To be effective, kids should wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds – about the amount of time it takes to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Studies have shown that regular soap is as effective in removing germs as anti-bacterial soap, as long as enough friction is maintained while cleansing. So encourage kids to rub hands vigorously for the allotted time, then rinse well. Dry with disposable towels instead of cotton ones to reduce contamination once hands are clean. And don’t forget to keep fingernails trimmed and clean.Get your beauty sleep. Children, especially adolescents, frequently don’t get enough rest, making them sleepy and unable to maintain focus on tasks during the school day. Studies show that the amount of sleep a child gets is directly related to his school performance, health and even behavior. Doctors recommend kindergarteners get 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and say kids ages 7-10 should be sleeping 10 or 11 hours. Adolescents 12-18 need to sleep at least 8 or 9 hours each night. To help your child get better quality sleep, make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Limit caffeinated and sugary drinks late in the day, and implement a transition time before bed with reading or another quiet activity to set the tone for sleep. A nightly routine is crucial in establishing a good sleeping pattern in children.Keep immunizations current. While some question the safety of immunizations, an overwhelming number of doctors agree that without them, childhood diseases like Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio would make countless children ill, or worse. Keeping your child’s immunizations current will not only guard him from disease — it will protect other children, as well. If you have any questions about the safety of the immunizations your child needs, talk to your doctor.An apple a day. Benjamin Franklin claimed this common fruit would certainly keep the doctor away. He was right about one thing: a healthy diet will boost your immune system, make you feel great and will help keep doctor appointments to a minimum. Encourage your children to eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber and whole grains. A couple of healthy snacks each day will keep your child’s blood sugar level between meals, and could help her focus, maintain good behavior and keep a healthy weight.98-99-100…Here I come! Kids were made to move, so encourage your child to get plenty of exercise each day. But you don’t have to call it “exercise.” Shooting hoops, jumping rope, playing hide-and-seek – any fun game that gets them moving will benefit their overall health and fitness. Limit TV time and sedentary activities. And by all means, model healthy habits by getting outside to play with them. You’ll benefit as much as they will.