Back to School Health for Kids.
Summer, don’t go! As August draws to a close, we could be forgiven for wishing for a few more weeks of long evenings and warm weather. Children up and down the country will be heading back to school this week, with many parents celebrating the start of September and many others busy preparing for what the new school year might bring. The typical household enjoyed the summer with relaxed routines and bedtimes. But now it is time to focus on getting everyone to school and work on time – books, uniforms, new teachers, class mates, homework, sports and other after-school activities.
Before the rigid routines begin and we jump on the treadmill of life, it might be a good idea to check out these back-to-school health tips to set them up for a safe, healthy year:
- 1. Set bedtimes
New research has proven what our bodies keep telling us – it’s essential, not only for kids but also for adults, to get a healthy amount of sleep each night. Sleep is important for the following reasons:
- restorative for the brain,
- too little sleep alters levels of hormones that regulate hunger,
- growth hormones are secreted during deep REM sleep,
- insufficient sleep is associated with higher incidence of behavioural problems, i.e.ADD and ADHD,
- night terrors and waking up in the night in a confused state are often made worse by sleep deprivation,
- memory consolidation occurs during deep REM sleep,
- when kids sleep well their parent’s sleep better too!
Although sleep requirements vary somewhat among individuals, most adults need about eight hours of sleep each night, and children and adolescents typically need more than eight hours – 9/10 hours is ideal. To get your kids ready to wake up earlier for school, consider making their bedtimes a little earlier each night for the first week or two of the new school year.
- Teach good hygiene habits
Schools are a magnet for germs; they lurk in classrooms, hallways and toilets. To help your kids avoid getting sick (and prevent them from bringing germs home), it’s important to show them how to protect themselves. Teach them to wash their hands after using the toilet and before going to lunch or eating a snack. You should also encourage them not to share food or drinks with other kids – but this can be fruitless!
- Stock up on healthy foods
A healthy diet is of the utmost importance, and junk foods just don’t cut it. It is a difficult job to get them to have variety, especially when they are picky eaters (which can equate to wasting money and food), but stocking up on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, cheese slices, lean protein like turkey, etc. may be a good way to start. Always be on the lookout for new ideas and try and get the kids to have more ownership of their lunches. If you don’t have junk food in the house, they can’t get their hands on it. Lastly – practice what you preach, if kids watch you eating a healthy diet, they will copy that.
- Manage stress
The thoughts of having to deal with back-to-school traffic chaos & time deadlines, homework and meeting new, challenging and changing social situations daily can send stress levels sky high. Too much stress can lead to a variety of health issues, like insomnia, sluggish immune systems and anxiety. Help manage stress by talking to your children about anything that’s bothering them, and take care not to overload anyone’s schedule, especially not your own. If you are tired and cranky they will be cranky too! Schoolwork and after-school activities are important, but it’s essential to your health and the health of your family as a whole to take time to relax, play and spend time as a family.
- Supplements for kids
Growth is especially rapid during the first 12 years of a child’s life. Continuous development means that children have a high nutrient requirement compared to their body size. Meeting those nutritional requirements can be a challenge, especially if you have fussy eaters!
Firstly, not everyone will necessarily benefit from taking some sort of vitamin or supplement. With a broad, balanced diet, it’s possible for your child to get all the nutrients they need. However, the majority of children (and adults) do not get the well balanced diet they could. This could be down to a number of factors, such as bad habits, taste preferences, reluctance to try new foods, budget restrictions or time constraints…it’s not easy!
With children, it can be more difficult, with some kids not fond of eating fruit, vegetables or fish. These foods contain important nutrients that help support growth, energy levels and even brain function and concentration
While children usually grow out of fussy eating, in the meantime, vitamins are crucial to supporting both their mental and physical development. Due to increased concentration and stress, some children may be more prone to picking up an illness in the weeks after they start back at school, especially if they are a bit run down. Many parents wish to protect their kids against the illnesses that can prevail on return to school. There are many products to choose from in Grants Pharmacy – here are three areas that we are commonly asked about.
- A ‘tonic’ to help with fatigue and tiredness
- Products that can help with concentration levels at school
- Vitamin supplements that can help boost immune systems
To help prevent busy, active children from becoming very fatigued, or after a period of illness, Pharmaton Kiddi Health and Vivioptal Junior both provide an excellent range of quality ingredients. They have a good level of the B vitamins, which are important for the correct functioning of the nervous system and for turning carbohydrates into energy. All the other key vitamins and minerals you would expect, such as Iron and Folic Acid are also included. Pharmaton Kiddi also contains Calcium, Phosphorous and the amino acid Lysine to help support healthy growth.
As well as the B vitamins we mentioned above, it’s important that we get an intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, either from our diet such as oily fish and certain nuts and seeds. These fatty acids are great for growing minds and have been shown to help improve concentration levels if taken for a period of six months.
Paradox Omega 3 chews have been formulated with high quality omega 3 oils, these lemon flavoured chews are perfect for school kids as they don’t have any fishy aftertaste which can put children off taking such a supplement. Each capsule provides the omega 3 you would expect from a portion of oily fish each day, so they are really useful for children that don’t like to eat salmon, mackerel or other oily fish.
While they can help with your child’s brain function and concentration, there are other things you can do to help also. Limiting the amount of high sugar products in lunch boxes can help limit a post lunch crash when blood sugar levels drop again, which can negatively affect concentration and mood. Making sure your child is well rested and getting good quality sleep will also contribute to better concentration levels in school.
How do we boost the immune system for kids? Parents are always keen to prevent their children picking up illnesses, especially when they go back into the classroom environment. Products containing vitamin c and zinc can help support good immune health and there are many of these on the market. They can help but are only part of the picture. Good sleeping habits, cutting out sugary foods and drinks and exercise all contribute to boosting the immune system. Vitamin C and Zinc are found in multivitamin products I mentioned earlier, such as Vivioptal Junior and Pharmaton Kiddi. Udo’s choice contains essential bacteria to maintain gut health in kids – this is an important part of the immune system that will help your kids fight infection, especially after a course of antibiotics. Call into Grants Pharmacy and our staff will show you the best products for your kids.
Lice outbreaks are common at this time of year but thankfully there are lots of different ways to treat head lice! You’ll find a wide variety of head lice treatments at Grants Pharmacy. We can offer the V-comb or shampoo treatments – we also have an information leaflet that will tell you all you need to know concerning head lice treatment.
Colds & Flu
As we come into the season of sniffles and sore throats, an effective fever treatment is good to have in the house. Recommended:
The change in weather conditions at this time of the year can cause Eczema to flare up. An itchy nuisance for children, 1 in 10 will suffer with it! The good news is that more than half of the children who have eczema today will be over it by the time they’re teenagers!
Scientists believe that eczema is inherited, so there’s no way to prevent it. But thankfully there are lots of treatments out there including:
Itchy eyes and runny noses can ruin school days- at Grants Pharmacy we offer unique products to help parents and children manage allergies
Salin Plus Salt Therapy Air Purifier
Grants Pharmacy also offers a wide range of products to treat allergies when flare ups happen. Our Pharmacists are always on hand to help and advise you on the best treatment for your allergy condition.
Lastly, All children aged five or over should be physically active for at least one hour a day.
Physical activity helps children:
- grow strong muscles and bones
- maintain a healthy weight
- discover the world around them
- build their confidence
You can help by encouraging your child to find activities they enjoy and building physical activity into family life.
Ways to make exercise fun
- Walk, scooter or cycle to and from school together as often as possible. Park the car 5 minutes from school and walk the rest. A little every day makes a difference over the school year.
- Build a den or treehouse with them in the school holidays. Or, under supervision, encourage them to climb a tree or two.
- Go roller skating, rollerblading or skateboarding, indoors or outside. In winter, go ice skating.
- Do an activity challenge together, such as training for a fun run or charity walk.
- Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have one of your own, ask if you can borrow a friend or neighbour’s dog.
- Support your kids in sports, clubs or any other activities that may interest them. Joining a weekend club sport encourages them to make a commitment to a team and regular exercise.
- Find time every weekend to do something active with your children. Play frisbee or football in the park, go trampolining, or try indoor rock climbing.
- Fly a kite. You’d be surprised how much running the kids will do watching the kite in the air – and picking it up off the ground!
- Take a trip to the beach. Beaches offer loads of ways for kids to get active, including games, rock-pooling, swimming, and plenty of running around. Or try an activity-based holiday.
- Look online and at websites for children’s fun days to give you ideas for active days out.
At Grants Pharmacy we have a full selection of branded and generic options coupled with free advice to allay any confusion when searching for the best products for back to school.
Grant’s Pharmacy, St Aidan’s Shopping Centre, Wexford, Gorey, Enniscorthy and Arklow. Find us on FB.