As kids begin heading back to school or leaving for the first time, the excitement and joy can quickly turn ugly with bad sickness. Schools and classrooms are a common breeding ground for germs that cause colds and stomach bugs. Getting ill not only makes your children feel miserable, but it also causes them to miss valuable learning time at school. Fortunately, there are things you can do to encourage your child to make important decisions throughout the day to keep them from getting sick.
Encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently
One of the easiest ways to prevent illness is washing hands frequently. This is true not only for kids, but also for adults. This is actually a major way to significantly reduce illnesses, since studies over the past few decades have all indicated that thoroughly washing your hands often cuts infection rates considerably. Let your kids know the importance of washing their hands and demonstrate how they should wash their hands. Be sure to use warm water and soap to rub for about 20 seconds (or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
Teach your children to keep things away from their face
This is along the same vein as encouraging your kids to wash their hands. While you can’t always prevent them from touching things that might have germs or interacting with other children, you can teach them to not put things on their face or in their mouth. Touching your eye or chewing on your pencil after another student borrowed is a quick way to get sick because the face is the easiest place to transmit viruses. Let them know they should never touch their face before washing their hands.
Keep them supplied so they don’t have to borrow materials from other students
You can’t (and shouldn’t) prohibit your kids from interacting with other students, but you can help them decrease their physical contact by keeping them prepared for school. If they have the school supplies they’re supposed to, like paper, pencils and a pencil sharpener, you’ll stop them from borrowing items from other kids who might have infections.
Pack their lunch with ice packs
A recent study found that a lot of stomach bugs come from parents who don’t pack lunch properly. The meat of a sandwich could quickly grow bacteria if it’s left sitting in a backpack all day at room temperature. Instead, if there are any items that might require cooling, use an insulated lunch bag with two ice packs.
Help them eat a healthy diet and get a lot of sleep
The best prevention against illness is a strong immune system, which is why a healthy diet and sleep are extremely important. During sleep, your body releases immune-enhancing substances perfect for protecting against illness while certain foods aid in the fight against sickness. Give your kids concrete bed times and nutritious meals to build their immune system and keep them learning at school.
Timothy Martinez Jr. is a freelance writer and contributes to a number of blogs, including the official blog of Picnic World.