By now you’re probably settling back into your school-time routine. Everyone’s sleep schedule is back on track, traffic has settled down and you’ve even managed to find time for homework. But you may also have found, a cold.
New class, new kids, new germs.
While there is no surefire way to prevent illness, there are some measures you can take to help protect your child from the pesky new viruses they will no doubt be exposed to.
Keep a Bedtime Schedule
It’s no secret that fatigue and sleep deprivation weakens the body’s immune system leaving it more vulnerable to illness. Between sports, extra curricular activities and homework, it can be easy for bedtime to get later and later. But it’s important that you make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Sleep is when the body restores and repairs itself, and for children, it’s also extremely important for proper growth. Sticking to a consistent bedtime routine will not only make sure your child is getting enough hours of sleep, but will also promote better sleep.
Exercise is a key ingredient to a happy and healthy child, and children best get exercise through play. Make sure your child gets plenty of time outside. Make exercise fun by finding an activity they enjoy and play along with them. Older children may enjoy joining a sports league. Consider signing them up for a city team. Not only will your child get exercise, they’ll also learn important skills like teamwork and sportsmanship.
Not only does excessive sugar lead to obesity, sugar interferes with the body’s immune system making it harder for the body to defend itself against viruses. Minimize the amount of sugar your child eats. Educate your child about healthy food options. Children will often make better food choices when they understand WHY they should be making them.
Offer lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but be realistic. It may sound surprising, but don’t completely ban junk food. It can set kids up for eating problems when they are able to make their own food choices. The taboo feeling of such banned foods can increase cravings and bad choices. Allowing a treat here and there can remove the mystique of junk food, making it less appealing.
Promote Frequent Hand Washing
You’ve heard this one a million times, but it’s so worth repeating. When it comes to stopping the spread of illness, nothing works better than good old-fashioned hand washing. Have your child wash their hands after using the bathroom or going outside and before meals. It’s also useful to have them wash their hands after returning home from public places or school.
Stress can wreak havoc on the immune system and while we often think of being a child as carefree, kids experience their own types of stress everyday. Talk to your child about their day. Tests, sporting events, new friends, speaking in front of the class, all of these things can be stressful for a child. Don’t dismiss these things as silly or unworthy of concern. There was a time where the big math test or getting picked after Sara for dodgeball was a really big deal to you too.
Take Care Of Yourself
An overlooked but important step to keeping your child healthy is to keep YOU healthy. Children’s immune systems aren’t as strong as ours. While a cold may feel like a day or two of the sniffles for you, it can leave your child miserable for days. Be sure you’re taking care of yourself. Do the above steps WITH your child. Not only will you be stopping the spread of illness, you’ll also be demonstrating good habits.