With the first day of school behind you, how do you focus your child on his or her new routine? What tips should you consider for the upcoming year? South Deerfield Family Practice physician Sean Dacus, DO — a father of two young sons — offers some practical advice for parents.
Restore Order at Home
Kids as young as 5 years old lead activity-filled lives. Transitioning them from summer mode to school-time schedules can be challenging for both parents and children.
Maintain a routine schedule with meals, bedtimes, and regular exercise. If summertime interrupted the order in your house, restore the routine by setting small and attainable goals, such as relaxing and preparing for bed 20 minutes earlier than during the summer. If your child went to camp or attended a summer class, the routine of that experience will be fresh in his or her mind.
Adjust Sleep Habits
The amount of sleep a child needs depends on the individual child an dhis or her age. Research suggests that children who are well-rested perform better in school, are less prone to mood swings and behavioral issues, and are generally happier and healthier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that preschoolers sleep between 11 and 13 hours per night. Adolescents typically require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep.
Eat Well for Success
As a parent, it’s essential to model good eating habits for your children. Kids are greatly influenced by what they see; if your diet consists of snacks and soda, they’ll want to follow your lead. Buy healthy foods and limit junk food. Give kids a certain amount of freedom to select foods from what you have in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. Your child will appreciate this newfound autonomy. Limit desserts, soda, and juice. Soda has no nutritional value and adds many unnecessary calories.
Anxiety about returning to school, establishing a new routine, and making friends is common for kids to express at this time of year. Help your child by lending a sympathetic ear and listening to any concerns. Be sure you are relaxed, too; your child will sense your anxiety.
Stay Safe at School
School safety encompasses many areas,from how children get to and from school to playground safety. Establish a safe route to your child’s bus stop or school. Use crosswalks, look both ways before crossing the street, and remind children not to talk to strangers.
Safety also includes student violence and bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is a common problem in schools. It can occur both face-to-face and, increasingly, through social media. If a child is bullied, he or she should make every effort to stay calm, as overreacting to the bully is often a reaction the bully seeks. Encourage your child to be confident and unfazed, which can often defuse a situation. If the incident occurs face-to-face, the child should look the bully in the eye, calmly ask the bully to stop, and inform the bully he or she wishes to be left alone. In addition, children should inform a parent or teacher if they feel threatened or unsafe.
You want the best for your child at every stage of his or her academic career. Establishing good habits now will help ensure future success. If health concerns arise, contact your pediatrician or family medicine doctor.
|Sean Dacus, DO, is a primary
care physician at South
Deerfield Family Practice.