Keeping your kids healthy and safe are important jobs for any parent or guardian. Make sure you spend back-to-school season making some changes to boost the wellness of your children.
Below are a dozen ways for keeping your kids healthy that are easy to implement and can have widespread benefits. Be sure that you’re taking care of your own health in the process. That way, your whole household will feel good throughout the coming fall, winter, and spring.
Promote Clean Teeth
Most of us don’t think too much about our teeth and gums except in the morning and at bedtime when we brush. However, promoting clean teeth throughout the day is essential. For instance, as a means of keeping your kids healthy, you might suggest that everyone brush after a big lunch or sugary snack. Or, you could urge your kids to chew sticks of sugar-free gum in between meals to help keep plaque from forming.
If you don’t already practice family dentistry, be sure to get on the calendar of a family dentist in your area. Most dentists recommend that kids and adults get checkups twice a year. During these semi-annual visits, the hygienist will thoroughly clean the teeth and the dentist will look for any problems. When you have a family dentist working on your side, you’ll never feel alone if something goes wrong with your child’s mouth.
Get Them Orthodontic Care
Along with having dental professionals as your healthcare partners, you may want to set up an appointment with one of your local orthodontics. When you’re keeping your kids healthy, you do have to consider how crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can affect your older child or teenager. Crowded teeth and overbites don’t just cause an unattractive smile. They, as well as other oral conditions, can create an environment more conducive to tooth decay, periodontal disease development, or eventual tooth loss.
Do you remember metal braces from your childhood? You probably didn’t like having them in your mouth. However, your child will probably be able to choose a different option, such as Invisalign clear braces. Invisalign uses discreet plastic aligners to adjust and perfect smiles, not mental brackets or wires. With Invisalign and similar products, you can easily begin keeping your kids healthy by helping them foster a winning, natural-looking smile.
Revamp the Family Diet
Many children across the nation aren’t getting the proper levels of nutrition. In fact, most teens waste about 10% of their daily calories on soda. Eating too many empty calories can lead to a wide array of health issues, and not just obesity. Yes, obesity is a countrywide concern. However, it’s not the only dilemma facing kids who overeat and snack on high-fat foods and sugary beverages. A child who doesn’t routinely eat well can be at higher risk for everything from diabetes to early hypertension.
Here’s where you come in. As a parent, you have a lot to say about what your child eats. You probably do all or most of the grocery shopping, too. In other words, you can have a direct effect on keeping your kids healthy as long as you’re willing to make changes, too. When the whole family gets into food preparation, meal planning, and healthier eating, kids are more likely to follow suit. Don’t be surprised if your child who loves pizza and fast food balks at the idea of eating salads and homemade meals. Changing everyone’s routines will take time. It will be worth it, though.
Maintain Their Updated Eye Exams
Have you noticed that your child tends to squint a lot? Does it seem like your kid’s grades are slipping for no apparent reason? Is your child complaining of constant headaches? Vision problems can sometimes be the cause of these issues, especially if your child has never been to a pediatric eye doctor or family optometrist before for a diagnosis.
Eye care is an essential element of keeping your kids healthy, so get on a doctor’s schedule soon. Usually, eye care professionals aren’t quite as booked up as other types of physicians. Therefore, you may be able to snag a visit sooner rather than later. If it turns out that your child or teenager needs glasses or contact lenses, you’ll be glad you took this initiative. Being able to see clearly makes everyday living better. It can also take away a lot of barriers to learning.
Encourage Regular Physical Exercise
Whether your child is going back to school in person this year or not, remember that gym classes aren’t a substitute for regular physical exercise at home. Every child should be engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily. If yours comes home, jumps on the TV or device, and never does anything to get his or her heart pumping, do something.
A great way to make physical exercise a no-brainer is to establish family routines that revolve around getting fitter. For example, why not make it common for your whole household to take an after-dinner stroll through the neighborhood on nice evenings? On beautiful days, you might be able to ride your bikes to your child’s school. Alternatively, you could set up a home gym with equipment that your older child or teen could safely use with some supervision like a treadmill, elliptical trainer, kettlebells, or free weights. Removing hurdles to physical exercise is a terrific method for keeping your kids healthy. Besides, it’s also good for you.
Ensure Their Physical Comfort
Sometimes, kids will complain about aches and pains. You might always assume that those are the “growing pains” you’ve heard so much about. And you could be right. Nevertheless, take the complaints seriously, especially if they occur on a routine basis. For instance, if your child keeps complaining about foot pain, take the child to see a podiatrist. If your child reports back pain, a pediatric chiropractor could be a good resource.
In general, children shouldn’t experience any kind of physical discomfort that deviates from the norm. Sure, they’ll occasionally get sore throats or bruises. Yet they shouldn’t always feel miserable physically. When they do, take the time to listen to their worries and then call the appropriate medical professional for some assistance.
Promote Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Part of keeping your kids healthy involves setting up rigid bedtimes. Going to bed at the same time each evening doesn’t just give them the eight to nine hours of quality sleep they need. It also helps them get a much-needed mental break. The brain requires time to rest and recharge. Yes, it’s still working, but it’s working on a different level when the body’s sleeping.
Of course, you might be wondering how you can get your children, and particularly teenagers, to go to bed at a decent hour. The answer is that you’ll probably have to stay on top of them and be vigilant. For a few weeks, plan to play the role of “sleep enforcer.” Kids can be notoriously sneaky and may try to stay awake longer than they should. Plan to stop by their bedrooms regularly every 15-30 minutes to see if they’ve fallen asleep and ensure they’re not burning the midnight oil.
Buy Digital Versions of Textbooks
Some schools have decided to offer virtual learning for all or most students. If that’s the case, you can help your kids by purchasing digital textbooks so they never have to use a regular one. Digital textbooks are highly convenient and may actually cost less than their paper counterparts.
Even if your child is going back to school in person, a digital textbook can be handy. After all, textbooks are frequently heavy. Kids have been known to experience serious back problems from carrying lots of textbooks in their backpacks at one time. By buying access to a digital version of a heavyweight English or history textbook, you could be easing the stress on your child’s joints, muscles, and vertebrae. Plus, your child will never have an excuse not to do homework, because the textbook can be pulled up on any device from a phone to a tablet.
Make Sure They Have Up-to-Date Vaccines
Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to schedule a wellness visit with your pediatrician or family doctor. During the wellness visit, ask the physician if your child is up to date with all vaccines. Having immunizations lowers the chances of your child contracting an unwanted disease that has been eradicated in most parts of the world such as meningitis, measles, and chickenpox.
Even if you’ve been hesitant to get flu shots for your kids before, this year is an important time for them to be inoculated against the expected seasonal flu strain. From a financial perspective, you’ll probably have to pay nothing for the flu shot if you have health insurance for you and your children. Be sure to get your own flu shot, too. The last thing you want is to be down and out with something that’s preventable.
Create a Dedicated Learning Space
When you have a child who needs to do schooling online, you may just assume that any learning space will do. That’s not true for most kids because they tend to do better with regimentation and routine. Therefore, spend a little time and spruce up your basement family room, unused extra bedroom, or another area to create a perfect-for-education niche.
What types of equipment should you have in your child’s classroom-at-home environment? A desk is a must-have piece of furniture, as is a comfortable chair. All online learners will also need some kind of a dedicated device and reliable Internet connection. Your child will probably also want some of the mainstay items like notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, colored paper, regular paper, and tape. Be sure to see if your local office supply store has a deal on printers, too. You can often secure one for much lower than the normal price during back-to-school season. Just make sure that the learning space you create is also safe for your kids. Does your home fire sprinkler design extend to that room? Are there smoke alarms? Are you audible from where they are? These are all important factors to consider.
Cut Down on Unnecessary Screen Time
It’s not a huge secret that keeping your kids healthy often means keeping them off their phones, tablets, and laptops. The truth is that screen time just isn’t great for kids or adults. Consequently, you’ll want to limit screen time to only what’s necessary.
To be sure, this can be tough. A lot of children’s learning is online, as well as their assignments. It’s impossible to tell a child not to use the computer if the child is using it to log into a homework portal, do research for a school project, or work on an essay due in the morning. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be strict about other types of screen time. For example, you may want to have a nighttime rule that the kids can’t have devices with screens in their bedrooms past a certain hour unless absolutely necessary. Be prepared for some pushback on this strategy, but know that you’re doing the right thing.
Build a Strong Support System
Kids today are dealing with more stressors than any other generation has had to face. From cyberbullying to being expected to achieve academically in every subject, children can become anxious and worried very quickly. While you should always remain open to allowing your kid or teen to see a therapist or counselor if needed, you can also adopt a natural treatment for anxiety: being supportive.
Having a supportive, close-knit family can mean the world to any child. Even if you didn’t grow up in a supportive family yourself, you can absolutely generate a positive home atmosphere for your kids to grow and thrive. Concentrate on staying optimistic, listening, and being empathetic. Sure, you’re still mom or dad, and that means you make the rules and sometimes have to discipline your kids. Nonetheless, you can still be a shoulder to cry on, not to mention your kid’s biggest advocate. Your child will feel less concerned if you’re more present in his or her world.
While keeping your kids healthy can seem like a never-ending job, it’s one that you should love being able to do. Plus, when you’re keeping your kids healthy, you’re ensuring that the next generation of this country’s leaders is going to be focused on health and wellness. That’s good for the country and for society as a whole.