Another school year has begun, and while you made sure your child had all the school supplies they needed to succeed, it’s just as important to make sure they have a healthy school year.

Kevin Townshend

Here are some tips to help your child stay healthy during the school year:

  1. Wash away the germs. Encourage your child to wash their hands often. Whether it’s soap and water or hand sanitizer, clean hands go a long way in reducing the spread of germs and infectious diseases.
  2. Don’t skip the shots. Make sure their immunizations are up to date. And don’t forget about the flu. It is recommended that all school-age children get the flu vaccine unless they have an allergy to the vaccine or a health problem that will cause complications from the vaccine.
  3. Visit the doctor. Scheduling a check-up is a great way to make sure your child’s school year gets off to a healthy start. It’s also an opportunity to get a physical for your child, which is usually required for kids who will be playing a sport.
  4. Getting sleep schedules back on track. It’s not too late to get their sleep schedule on track. Start readjusting bedtimes so children are hitting the pillow earlier. Also encourage them to cut back on playing games and watching television in the evening as setting a bed time routine is important.
  5. Healthy food = good health. A healthy diet is the fuel children need to succeed in the classroom. Make sure your child is eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and foods that are low in fat and rich in protein, such as fish, eggs and beans.

The start of a new school year is exciting, but it can also be a little scary for some children. It’s a big shift from summer’s freedom to the measured routines of school – and sometimes that can build up into big, emotional outbursts and other classic signs of anxiety.

Here are some additional tips to ease back to school anxiety for children:

  1. Listen to your child. Be available and give your child your undivided attention to express his/her feelings or fears. Understand that it’s normal to experience these things and it is important to talk about them.
  2. Focus on the positive aspects of going to school, such as being with friends, learning a favorite subject and playing at recess. Talk through previous triumphs and remind them of their own successes with previous situations.
  3. Pay attention to your behavior. Kids often feed off the anxiety and energy they sense in the adults around them. That’s why it’s important that you remain calm and positive. The more confidence and comfort that you can model, the more your child will understand there is no need to worry.
  4. Get back into a routine. Ideally, you’ll want to do this a week or two before school starts. Prepare your child by getting back into school year routines, like realistic bedtimes and selecting tomorrow’s clothes.
  5. Be patient. Erasing anxiety can take time and each day can bring new challenges. Be patient with your child and with yourself, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to childhood anxiety.

Kevin Townshend, M.D., is a family medicine physician at Ascension Medical Group at Westwood, 1901 Westwood Center Blvd. in Wausau. For more information visit ascension.org/wisconsin or call 715-355-9775.