As a parent, you're likely always worrying about your children's health, and heading back to school is among the most common times that parents let this worry run amuck. Many parents are running wild to make sure their children are prepared, from last-minute school projects to stocking up on medicine and vitamin C for the inevitable fall cold they catch every year. When your kids are at school, they're out of your care and you have to trust that they will choose healthy habits, join the right crowd, and focus on their studies.
There are so many things to stress about when it comes to your child's health and development that it can seem overwhelming to send them into a new school year. But as long as you are prepared for everything, you can have peace of mind while your children start their new grades. That's why we've created a pediatric wellness checklist to help you keep back-to-school preparations as stress-free as possible.
1. Know Your Child's Symptoms
As any parent knows, the start of a new school year can bring a lot of excitement - and a lot of germs. As the school year begins, many parents find themselves closely monitoring their children for any signs of illness. After all, cold and flu season is in full swing, and no one wants their little one to miss a crucial week of math class. But with so many different types of illnesses circulating, it can be hard to know when your child is sick and needs to stay home from school. Here are some tips to keep in mind when examining your child for illness:
To keep your child healthy, it's important to be familiar with the common symptoms of illnesses. As they begin the school year, pay attention to your child's overall health and well-being, and don't hesitate to consult a medical professional if your child shows any concerning symptoms.
- Know the signs of a cold - Cold symptoms may include a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and fever. If your child complains of a sore throat, take a close look at their tonsils. If they're red and swollen, they likely have a cold. However, if the tonsils are covered in white patches or pus, they may have strep throat and should see a doctor.
- Make sure it isn't serious - A cough is another common symptom of colds and flu, but it can also be a sign of a more serious illness like bronchitis or pneumonia. If your child is having difficulty breathing or their cough is accompanied by chest pain, see a doctor immediately.
- Keep a thermometer handy - When your child is feeling ill, it's important to rule out a fever. If your child's temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it's worth a call to your child's doctor.
- Know if it's sickness or allergies - Nasal congestion is another common cold symptom, but it can also be caused by allergies. If your child's nose is always congested or they frequently sneeze or rub their eyes, they may have seasonal allergies. However, if they have discharge that is greenish or yellow, it may be a sign of a cold. Your pediatrician can assess whether your child is sick or has allergies and help to manage the symptoms.
To keep your child healthy, it's important to be familiar with the common symptoms of illnesses. As they begin the school year, pay attention to your child's overall health and well-being, and don't hesitate to consult a if your child shows any concerning symptoms.
2. Encourage Healthy Habits
As the summer comes to an end and children head back to school, it's important to encourage them to develop healthy habits. This is especially important now, as kids are at a higher risk of contracting illnesses like the flu or becoming overweight. You can educate your children about some general information such as:
If you are unsure of what habits to instill in your children, a primary care provider gives both parents and children advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during wellness visits.
- Reducing the spread of germs - One simple way to reduce the risk of illness is to encourage kids to wash their hands regularly or send them to school with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It's also important to remind them to cough or sneeze into their elbow, rather than their hands, to prevent the spread of germs.
- Keeping a healthy diet - Eating healthy is another crucial habit for kids to develop. A nutritious diet helps boost the immune system and can also improve focus and energy levels. So, make sure your kids are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Finally, encourage kids to get regular exercise.
- The importance of exercise - Physical activity helps strengthen the immune system and can also help improve mood and sleep quality. So, make sure your kids are getting up and moving every day. By teaching kids these healthy habits, you can help them stay healthy all year long.
3. Check On Their Mental Health
As important as it is to physically prepare your child for the school year, it's just as important to check in on their mental health. For many children, going back to school can be a difficult transition. They may be worried about starting a new grade, making new friends, or facing bullies. If your child seems unusually stressed or anxious about going back to school, talk to them about what they're feeling and see how you can offer support. It may also be helpful to speak with their teacher or school counselor to get their professional input.
In addition to stress and anxiety, you should be on the lookout for other signs of mental health issues like depression, which is especially common in children and teens. The most common symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in appetite.
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Persistent sadness or irritability.
If your child shows any signs of depression, it's important to seek professional help. Your child’s can refer your child to a mental health counselor or therapist who can treat mental health issues and provide the tools they need to cope with their symptoms. By keeping an eye on your child's physical and mental health, you can help them stay healthy and happy all school year long.
4. Have Your Doctor Sign Off
With so much to do before the first day of school, a visit to the pediatrician is an essential part of getting your child ready for a successful year. Before sending your children off to school, you'll need your pediatrician to make sure your child is up to date on vaccinations and in good health. Booster shots may be needed for some vaccines, and your pediatrician can also offer guidance on managing any chronic medical conditions. Further, one of the perks of having a primary care provider is that they can provide you with the medical education you need to best care for your children.
If you are preparing to send your kids back to the classroom, make sure they have everything they need with a pediatric wellness visit at . Our team of is proud to offer patient-centric, compassionate care to children and teens. Set your children up for a great school year by today.
provides personalized care to patients across greater Pittsburgh, integrating primary and preventative care with sports medicine to offer a patient-centered approach. We offer services ranging from and to . If you are interested in or other health care services, online or reach out to us at (724) 527-2700. You can also visit our office located at 2057 State Route 130, Suite #1, Jeannette, PA 15644.