Approximately 22 million missed school days each year are attributed to contagious illness reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From the flu to stomach bugs, pink eye, or the common cold, your child is exposed to a variety of bacterial infections and viruses while trying to learn and grow at school.
As a parent, you might feel helpless against protecting your child from these and other common illnesses. Fortunately, you can reduce the chances of your child getting sick at school and spreading their illness to the rest of the family. Here are a few things to try.
Keep Your Child’s Vaccinations Up to Date
Polio, rubella, tetanus, measles, and pertussis are a few of the diseases your child is protected from by receiving vaccines. Your doctor will provide a recommended vaccine schedule that is intended to not only keep your child from getting sick but also protect immunocompromised individuals who cannot receive vaccines.
In addition to the recommended vaccines for all children, your child may require additional vaccines if they travel often, are adopted from certain countries, or suffer from certain illnesses, including hemophilia. These vaccines include the meningococcal vaccines and pneumococcal vaccine.
The flu vaccine is also recommended for most children. An estimated 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications associated to influenza. Ask your doctor about when your child should get the flu vaccine.
Practice Good Hygiene
Reminding your child to wash their hands or brush their teeth is a great place to start, but you won’t know if they’re practicing good hygiene at school. Here are a few ways you can encourage your child to maintain good hygiene while they’re at school:
- Make handwashing fun. Teach your child a song or do a dance when washing your hands. Encourage your child to teach the song or dance to their friends so they can all do it together at school.
- Establish a routine. Encourage your child to wash their hands after they use the bathroom, before they eat, and when needed throughout the day.
- Provide older children hand sanitizer. Encourage your older child to use hand sanitizer periodically throughout the day.
- Reward your child for following their routine. Treat your child to a movie or trip to their favorite ice cream shop for remembering to wash their hands or cover their mouth when they cough without being told.
- Create an after-school routine. Tell your child to wash their hands and change into play clothes when they get home from school. This practice will help eliminate any germs that your child brings home from school.
Leading by example is often the best way to remind your child to practice their personal hygiene routine.
Teach Your Child to Keep Their Hands Away from Their Face
A 2008 study found that the average person touches their face approximately 15.7 times each hour. Each time your child puts their fingers in their mouth, picks their nose, or rubs their eyes, they expose themselves to whatever germs are on their hands. Breaking your child of this habit can be difficult, but it is possible.
Remain vigilant and each time your child touches their face, remind them that this can spread germs. Making a game out of this is a great way to teach younger children the dangers of touching their face. For example, each time your younger child touches their eyes, nose, lips, or cheeks, place a small sticker on their face.
This will give them a visual representation of how many germs will get on their face and into their body.
Boost Your Child’s Immune System
Protecting your child from germs is the first step in preventing them from missing out on learning at school. Here are a few ways you can boost your child’s immune system:
- Establish an early bedtime. Children and adults who don’t get enough sleep often suffer from a weakened immune system. Ask your pediatrician about the recommended amount of sleep for your child according to their age.
- Ease your child’s stress. Talk to your child about their school life and anything that is troubling them. Encourage your child to enjoy their favorite pastime, take a walk as a family, or whatever will help them relax.
- Serve a variety of certain immune-boosting foods. Citrus fruits, almonds, chicken, and spinach are a few of the many foods that feature vitamins and minerals that can help keep your child healthy.
- Encourage your child to exercise. Take family walks, enroll your child in an after-school sport, or let them play at the park. Physical activity will decrease stress hormones in their blood and encourage their lungs to work harder, which will help flush bacteria and viruses out of their body.
Ask your pediatrician to recommend a multivitamin that can boost your child’s immune system.
These are several things you can do to help your child protect themselves from getting sick at school. If you have any more questions, contact the professionals at Stellis Health.