Cold and flu season is in full swing. It is important to learn about hand hygiene and other strategies to stop the spread, so the whole family can stay well over the holidays. Here are some tips to help teach your kids about hygiene and germ prevention:
Lead by example, showcasing proper practices like handwashing and covering the mouth when sneezing.
Make hygiene routines fun with colorful, child-friendly products and establish a consistent schedule. Choose a song or jingle to sing for at least 20 seconds while your child washes their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Explain the "why" behind hygiene, emphasizing its role in preventing illness. Use visual aids, charts, or videos to help children understand the concepts of germs and cleanliness.
Encourage personal responsibility by involving kids in age-appropriate cleaning tasks.
Reinforce positive behavior with praise and celebrate their successes in adopting good hygiene habits.
Address your child's questions honestly, using age-appropriate language to explain the importance of cleanliness.
Highlight the importance of personal space and avoiding close contact when someone is sick. Encourage kids to maintain distance and avoid sharing personal items like cups or utensil when they are unwell.
By fostering these habits early on, parents can set the foundation for a healthy and mindful future.
Picky Eating: Try the Division of Responsibility
Whether you have a toddler or young child, picky eating can feel frustrating and discouraging. When in doubt, come back to the Division of Responsibility. The Division of Responsibility is a tool introduced by Ellyn Satter that assigns certain responsibilities to the caregiver and child at mealtimes. This framework can help you feel confident in setting consistent, healthy boundaries.
The parent/caregiver is responsible for:
What to eat. The caregiver is responsible for offering healthy choices. Try not to make a separate meal for your child. With each meal, try offering two foods that you know your child likes along with one new food. Consistently offer new foods.
When to eat. The caregiver is responsible for setting meal and snack times.
Where to eat. Eat together at the dinner table with no screens.
The child is responsible for:
If they want to eat. Toddlers and children have built-in hunger and fullness cues and their appetites vary - some days they may eat less, and others they may eat more. Look at your child’s eating patterns on a weekly basis instead of daily.
How much to eat. Trust your child when they say they’ve eaten enough. Avoid pressuring your child to eat more if they say they are full.
Be patient yet firm with this process. Sometimes, kids need 10-20 exposures to a new food before they're willing to taste it. By following the Division of Responsibility now, you will be setting your child up for a healthy relationship with food in the future.
A Guide to Safe Trick-or-Treating Check out these tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treating experience for your children.
Plan ahead: Sit down with your kids to discuss costumes, routes, and rules. Stress the importance of staying in well-lit areas and not wandering into unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Costume Safety: Choose costumes that are flame-resistant, well-fitting, and free from tripping hazards. Enhance visibility by adding reflective tape or glow-in-the-dark elements.
Trick-or-Treat in Groups: Kids should never go alone. Encourage them to go with friends or a trusted adult for safety and fun.
Stay on Well-Lit Paths: Stick to well-lit streets and sidewalks, avoiding dark areas. Provide flashlights or glow sticks to improve visibility.
Road Safety: Teach kids to look both ways, use crosswalks, and obey traffic signals when crossing streets.
Set a Time Limit: Establish a reasonable curfew to ensure everyone's well-being.
Inspect Treats: Before indulging, inspect all treats for tampering and ensure they are sealed and unopened.
Allergy Awareness: If your child has allergies, be cautious and have allergen-free treats on hand.
Costume Comfort: Ensure costumes allow freedom of movement, clear vision, and easy breathing. Avoid masks that obstruct sight.
Back-to-School in September As September approaches, it's time to start thinking about getting our kids back to school. Alongside the excitement of reuniting with friends and teachers, it's essential to ensure that they start the new academic year with a focus on healthy living.
Here are 10 tips to help you and your kids prepare for a successful and healthy return to school:
Sleep Routine: Gradually adjust your child's sleep schedule to align with the school routine. A well-rested child will be more focused, alert, and ready to learn.
Nutritious Breakfast: Fuel your kids' minds and bodies with breakfast every morning. Incorporate fruits, whole grains, and protein to keep their energy levels steady throughout the day.
Hydration Habits: Encourage your children to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration aids in concentration, digestion, and overall well-being.
Physical Activity: Engage in physical activities as a family, such as walking, biking, or playing outdoor games. Regular exercise promotes a healthy lifestyle and improves mood.
Balanced Lunches: Pack healthy and balanced lunches for your kids, including a mix of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains. Limit ultra-processed snacks and sugary beverages like juice.
Screen Time: Set screen time limits to ensure your children have lots of time for physical activity, reading, and socializing. Limiting screen time also promotes better sleep.
Immunization Checkup: Make sure your child's immunizations are up to date. Vaccinations protect against preventable illnesses and keep the school environment healthier. For information on routine vaccinations for kids, click here.
Mental Well-being: Encourage open communication with your kids about their feelings and concerns about returning to school. Create a positive and supportive environment to ease any anxieties they may have.
Family Mealtime: Whenever possible, gather the family for dinner to promote healthy mealtime habits. It's also an excellent time to discuss school experiences and share each other's thoughts and feelings.
Goal Setting: Encourage your kids to set achievable goals for the school year and offer positive reinforcement along the way. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, to boost their confidence and motivation to thrive.
By incorporating these tips into your family's daily routine, you can ensure that your kids are mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming school year. Remember, healthy living is not just about physical well-being but also encompasses emotional and mental health. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is important for your children to excel. Here's to a great school year ahead!