Health Tips for Students and Parents
Back to School Health Tips
This time of year, both parents and children are excited about the new school year to begin. The back to school season is full of fantastic new things to be excited about; clothes, supplies, teachers, schools, and friends. Unfortunately, with positive experiences come negative ones.
Bacteria, viruses, and other germs also love back to school because it provides a perfect place to spread and infect your children, and in turn, you!
Whether your child is just starting out at daycare, or they’re beginning University, everyone needs to know how to protect themselves and their family against germs.
General Advice for all ages:
1. Clean your hands often, with soap or hand sanitizer. Key times are prior to eating or touching your face.
2. Change hand towels regularly to prevent transmission.
3. A cough into your elbow as opposed to your hands. This keeps your infectious cough droplets out of the air and off of your hands.
4. Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet and keep active to keep your immune system optimized.
5. Get your flu shot! Every fall a new flu shot is created based on predictions for the year’s flu virus. People who are most at risk are the young and old. Getting one yourself helps protect those you love who are at risk.
Make sure that you teach your child good hand-washing and set up a routine that they wash their hands prior to eating. When they come home from daycare, wash their hands before they touch objects in your home.
If they are in a certified daycare, there are often rules for when you are able to send your child there if sick (i.e. If they have a fever, rash, runny nose etc.). Typically if your child has a fever, they are infectious and should be staying home.
Even with the most diligent practices, if your child is new to school/daycare and being around other children, they will get sick very frequently. Most of it is very benign, like common coughs and colds, but be sure that your child’s immunizations are up to date and see what the rules are for vaccinations at your facility.
Adolescence can be a difficult time; bodies are changing, hormones are raging and there increased stressors trying to figure out what you are going to do with your life. It can be difficult as a parent to understand what they are going through. Mental health is key at this age, as teenagers tend to feel misunderstood, unwanted, or that they are not meeting your expectations.
It’s important that you are open with your child and if they come to you with troubles that you do not judge or severely punish them as it may prevent them from coming to you in the future.
Encourage your child to speak with you or mental health hotlines if they are struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. These can be silent, so make sure your child is aware of when and how to seek help.
Peer pressure with drugs, alcohol, and smoking are also common, especially if starting a new school and not having the support of old friends. Trying to fit in with a new crowd may cause your child to experiment with substances that can have negative or even deadly effects. If you’re able to, monitor your child for symptoms of substance misuse. Look for a change in behaviour, being withdrawn, change in school grades, or a change in people they are hanging out with.
Make sure prescription medication (especially narcotics) are in locked cabinets. Prescription pills are gaining popularity among the young crowd and “pill popping parties” are now common. Educate your child about the dangers of taking medication that they are not prescribed.
High school and University are typically the times when people start to have sexual experiences. Be sure to educate your children about safe sex for how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.
Back to school is an exciting time with a multitude of new experiences for your child. Ensure that both you and your kids are prepared for the challenges that will be faced in the school year ahead.