Keep talking to your kids so that you are involved, engaged and able to pick up on any mood changes. Easier said than done, especially with teens, but try to keep the two way conversation open. Encouragement can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. And we all know that physical health and emotional health are dependent on one another.
All children, ages 2-18, should have yearly checkups with their pediatrician (every 6 m for dentist). I encourage parents to schedule the next checkup at the end of the last. At Hendersonville Pediatrics we have text messaging reminders which can help with keeping your child on schedule. Check ups are important for those with chronic illnesses and those without, annually whether or not they are due for their vaccines (by the way, get your flu shot!). Why? Here is the thing…we check your child top to bottom during a physical. My exam begins the second I lay my eyes on your child during the initial moments of the exam and throughout the physical exam. I am looking for physical and emotional problems, changing moles, neurological problems, heart arrhythmias, abnormal cysts, enlarged organs and many other abnormalities which may not be obvious to a child or a parent. For example, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in males ages 15-35y. Your teenage boy may be embarrassed to tell you he noticed a lump or has discomfort. A checkup with your pediatrician may save his life because we do look for abnormal masses, collections of fluid and/or enlargement of the testicles. If he has a checkup yearly that may be one less year he goes without telling someone and one less year for cancer to grow.
I think that we all ease up on the bedtime routine during summers. This is mostly OK (if it varies slightly) because kids can still get the sleep that they need without waking up early for school. Ideally though, we should stick to a consistent bedtime during most days of the year. This has been shown to be healthier for adults and children. It makes it much easier in the Fall when school starts and we have to yet again teach our children to go to bed at a decent time. Watch the screen time in the summer as well as during the school year. Remember that sleep is just as necessary for one’s body as food and shelter.
HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
I could write for hours about food choices, food fights, how not to have food fights and what your children should be eating. But, I do not live in your house so no judging here. The food saga is never-ending at my house. I finally got my two oldest to “try” new vegetables and the littles turned on me…they used to eat things like avocado, pear-spinach pouches and peas. Now they will only eat broccoli (doused in ketchup). So, what are we to do when our friendly pediatrician tells us to stick to healthy foods for our children? Get creative and have boundaries with your children. It is all about balance. This is even more important during the school year as their bodies are fighting off so many germs. Do your best. Make that vegetable the way you normally do. Place a small piece in everyone’s plate. At every dinner. Eat as a family as much as you can. Stay positive. School lunches can challenge even the most seasoned of parents as the kids get bored rather quickly. Change it up. Allow for one piece “junk” and the other foods/snacks should be healthy as in fruit, carrots, cucumbers, granola, cheese sticks, yogurt. Involve your kids in the decisions as they choose their snacks.
Handwashing. Handwashing. Handwashing.
Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch your face.
This is how I stay (mostly) healthy while seeing 25-30 snotty kids in my office each workday. Encourage your children to wash their hands often - before meals and after bathroom breaks. Have them sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands. Discourage nose picking - no magic for this:) Have them bathe daily.
SPORTS/ BODIES IN MOTION
Keep them moving. Kids do not need to excel in a sport. They do not need to master any sport. They need to be engaged while doing it so that they are motivated to do it again. A sedentary lifestyle and our epidemic of obesity cuts lives short everyday. Set them up for success and model this behavior of being active. They should be exposed to multiple sports as to not create an environment for stress injuries. Plus, keeping it interesting is half the battle. Change it up.