The start of the school year is here. In order to keep your child healthy, it is important to get them prepared for the school year. Here are some health tips to keep in mind for this back-to-school season. 

“Teach or remind your child how to perform proper handwashing. It is the single best way to stop the spread of the viruses that are responsible for our colds,” said Emily Smith, DO, a family physician at McLaren Greater Lansing Primary Care – Okemos. “The trick to this is to have proper techniques. Hand sanitizer needs to be rubbed into hands until it is dry. If hands are visibly dirty, apply soap and running water for 20 seconds. Singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ or ‘Happy Birthday’ will get you through those 20 seconds.”

The correct technique is crucial in preventing the spread of viruses. Handwashing is not the only thing that requires proper techniques. Teach your child to cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbows instead of their hands and immediately wash with soap and water when possible. When it comes to our health, prevention is better than a cure.

“Confirm that your child is up to date with all required vaccines,” said Dr. Smith. “We know that this is one of the best ways to protect our children. If you have questions about your child’s vaccine status, reaching out to their primary care provider is a great place to start.”

An important part of a child’s overall health and well-being is mental health. Mental health encompasses a child’s mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being. It affects the way they think, feel, and behave, as well as how they relate to others, deal with stress, and make healthy choices.

“Setting our kids up for awareness about their own and others’ emotional health is important,” said Dr. Smith. “It is necessary to talk about the things that make us uncomfortable or vulnerable with our kids. Then they can learn feeling anxious, worried, sad, or mad is not necessarily a bad thing but a part of the human experience. So, start talking to your kids every day. Ask them how they are doing and ask what made them feel special today.”

Research shows healthy students are better learners. Scheduling a well-child exam with your child’s primary care physician can help you further prepare as they can give you tips and the health status of your child. Ensure your child eats well and is active. Additionally, limit their consumption of sugary drinks and make sure they are getting enough sleep.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, click here. To view a list of primary care providers accepting new patients, click here.

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