Healthy Habits for Kids to Start this School Year

Aug 21, 2019 11:03:06 AM / by Voyage Healthcare Team posted in Family Medicine, Health Tips

It's that time again: Back to School!

When your kids are at home it's easy to make sure they keep up with good health habits, but what about when they start school?

Young boy getting on school bus

School is where kids spend a majority of their day learning, growing, and unfortunately picking up lots of germs and some not-so-hygienic behaviors. As with any habit, it becomes easier the longer you stick to it. Start making healthy habits today for a lifetime of health for your children. 

Healthy Habit #1: Don't skip breakfast

It's true, it really is the most important meal of the day. Don't let your kids start their day on an empty tank. Fill them up with a balanced breakfast that includes carbohydrates and protein. Skip the sugary cereal and pastries and opt for whole-grain cereal or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast that will boost your child's nutrition. Complex carbs and fiber provide slow burning energy and won't give them a "sugar crash". Try hard boiled eggs or nut butter for a protein punch. 

Making breakfast part of your children's healthy habits will help with brain function and will give them a stable level of energy throughout the day. 

Healthy Habit #2: Teach them how to ward off colds and the flu

Kids just don't know how easily germs can spread. Teach your kids healthy habits to keep colds, flus, and other infections at bay. 

Hand Washing: Almost 22 million school days are missed due to the common cold alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that hand washing can reduce your child's sick days. Teach your kids to wash their hands before meals or handling food, as well as when they come inside from playing or petting their furry friends.  Show them how to wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds, or the length of the "Happy Birthday" song. 

Coughing and Sneezing: The worst thing you can do is to sneeze into your hands! Teach your children to cough and sneeze the right way—into their elbows. This prevents the spread of germs on surfaces like desks and doorknobs, and also in the air. 

Don't share at lunch: Remind your children to not share cups or utensils with other kids at lunch. They might want to be nice and share, but nasty viruses and bacteria are easily transmitted through saliva. 

Healthy Habit #3: Get them in the kitchen

A life of healthy eating starts in the kitchen. Get your kids in the kitchen so that they learn how to contribute to the family and you'll be able to spend valuable time together. When children cook, they are more likely to try new foods and expand their pallets. Not only will they be helping to put food on the table, but cooking and baking are great practical lessons in math and chemistry! 

A healthy habit to start during the school year is to have your children pack their own balanced lunches. They'll feel confident from their accomplishment and help cut down on your to-do list.

Healthy Habit #4: Check in on their mental health

Back to school time can be stressful for kids. Tests, homework, and social pressures can add up and cause anxiety. Some tell-tale signs of anxiety are: behavior changes, difficulty concentrating, development of a nervous habit like nail biting, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Remember, your child's problems might seem little to adults, but for kids they feel much bigger. Be sure to always listen and provide empathy for your child. 

Other ways to help your child with healthy habits is to make your home a calm place and stick to a predictable routine. 

Healthy Habit #5: Set a strict bedtime 

One of the top healthy habits for kids is to set a bedtime routine. Sleep is crucial for kids because it's when they can rest and recover from the day and when they do their most growing! Pediatricians say young children need to get about 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night, which means they need to go to bed around 8 or 9 o’clock, depending on what time they need to get up for school. 

Here are some ideas for a bedtime routine:

Make it enjoyable: Your child should consider their bedtime ritual as a chance to wind down and spend time with their parents or caretakers. A warm bath or shower, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, and reading a few pages of a book should get them ready for bed. The most important thing is that you stick to this routine. 

Keep their room comfy: Make sure your child's room is optimized for good sleep. It should be dark (or with a dim nightlight), cool, and have good air circulation. If it's too bright, warm, or stuffy, your child's sleep will suffer. 

No electronics: Turn off the TV, computer, tablets, and phones at least an hour before bedtime. Too much screen time can affect your child's sleep quality. 

Visit Voyage Healthcare this School Year

Teaching your children these healthy habits will help them set the foundation for creating a healthy lifestyle as an adult. Roll out these new health habits and routines with the new school year and you'll keep your kids healthy all year long. 

Our Family Medicine providers see patients at our Maple Grove, Osseo, Crystal, and Plymouth locations. Call (763) 587-7999 to schedule an appointment, or use our online appointment request form!

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Voyage Healthcare Team

Written by Voyage Healthcare Team

Voyage Healthcare is an independently owned, multi-specialty healthcare clinic — guided by the doctors who care for families in the northwest metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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