Be prepared, and you can survive the back-to- school adventure.
News flash: school starts soon, which means your family’s lazy summer evenings are numbered.
Even if your home gets hectic this fall, there are some simple things you can do now to reduce stress and help your child stay healthy.
Here are seven ways you can make back to school a healthy transition!
1. Schedule your child’s well-check.
And here’s a little secret about doctor’s offices, says pediatrician Ashley Lucas, MD: they’re less busy in summer. “There’s time to talk about behavioral concerns, growth and development questions or concerns about weight,” Dr. Lucas says. “And we’re also screening for things the parent may not even realize, such as speech, scoliosis, abnormal weight gain, and we can discuss preventive care such as sun protection, injury protection or menstrual cycle questions for girls.”
What to Expect at Well Checks – Birth to 10 years old
What to Expect at Well Checks – Pre-Teens to Teenagers
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2. Update vaccinations.
While you’re at the well-check appointment, make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date. Sets of shots are prescribed at various ages up through young adulthood, so ask your child’s pediatrician about what immunizations are due.
3. A little special treatment goes far.
Children with chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic allergies, or attention deficit disorder often miss school because of illness or medical appointments. It’s a good idea to visit their specialist before school starts to avoid missing too much school. The same goes for appointments to see the dentist or eye doctor.
4. When it comes to homework, do yours!
Homework can overwhelm children and families. But by planning, teaching your child time management techniques and establishing some sensible ground rules, you can tame the homework beast.
- Set aside a quiet space for homework free from distractions.
- Save time by keeping school supplies near the study area.
- Establish a routine, and set and stick to some ground rules about completing homework before playtime.
- Help your children to set up a calendar and teach them how to divide big projects into smaller tasks they can tackle one at a time.
5. You can help reduce your child’s stress.
- Make sure they get enough sleep.
- Encourage them to get plenty of fresh air and outdoor activity.
- Encourage your child to participate in self-esteem building activities such as martial arts or dance.
- Learn to say no to some invitations and activities. You can worsen your child’s stress by scheduling too many activities.
- If your child seems anxious, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor can help you determine if your child would benefit from seeing a child therapist or counselor. And encourage your child to talk about their worries and concerns.
6. Get plenty of sleep.
“Kids are supposed to get 10 hours of sleep per night for optimal academic functioning,” Dr. Lucas says. Things like excessive time using computers or watching television, or activity late in the day, wakes up your brain, Dr. Lucas explains, so it’s best to set screen time limits and to have children wind down physical activity in the evenings. Parents can demonstrate good habits by limiting their own screen time, such as putting away phones during meals or family time, and asking your children about activities they did during the day.
7. Teach kids how to cope with bullies.
Bullies can cause severe physical and emotional harm in children who are ill- prepared to deal with them. You can help your child cope with a bully by providing some guidelines on how to react—or better yet, how not to.
Dr. Lucas explains that bullies, more than anything, seek attention, either from their target, classmates or both.
“Teach children the best approach is simply to walk away and ignore a bully,” Dr. Lucas advises. You can rehearse at home with your child by role playing so your child gets comfortable with the act of ignoring and walking away. Just as important, teach children that if they witness bullying not to react so as not to encourage the bully. “If the bullying is significant, it should be reported,” says Dr. Lucas.
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