Summer holidays are over, and parents and children are returning to school and work after long relaxing breaks. It’s not only adults that tend to feel pressure and anxiety, children feel it too. The Doctors at Valiant Clinic have put together a simple and easy guide to getting you back to your routine in no time.
Children going back to school – Excitement, Anxiety and Depression
Dr. Badi AlAtasi, Consult Pediatrician said “Excitement is only one emotion that children can feel about going back to school. Depression and anxiety are common feelings returning schoolchildren face. The prospect of meeting new people, having new teachers and new schedules can be daunting. Furthermore, as parents become busier with their normal work/life routine, children do not receive the same attention at home as they have enjoyed during the school.
It is very important for parents to spend enough time with their children making sure they are comfortable which will help to ease the pressure. Furthermore, stability is very important for children. Going back to school is associated with a lot of different expenses. It is important that parents do not address these financial concern or burden children with these which will only increase pressure and tension. Children need a stable environment to thrive and feel comfortable hence why routines such as sleeping and eating need to be reestablished quickly to ensure a smooth transition”.
Sleeping Habits - Getting back to a normal sleeping routine
Dr. Badi AlAtasi, Consult Pediatrician said“Some parents struggle with getting their children back to normal sleeping habits after a holiday. This is completely normal. The average number of hours a child should sleep is dependent on their age – Pre School 3 – 5 years old should be averaging 10 -13 hours per night, age 6 – 13 years old, 9- 11 hours per night, teenager aged 14 to 17 should be getting 8-10 hours.
If your child finds it hard going to sleep early on a school night, make sure you put them in a silent space with a dim light or minimal lighting with no stimuli 20 minutes to one hour before bed time. The child can read a book or play a game (avoid electronics) and they will eventually fall asleep. You need to do this repeatedly for several days until the child gets used to it (this will usually take between 2 to 4 days). Furthermore, you need to make sure the child does not nap during the daytime to ensure they are thoroughly tired by bed time. A normal sleeping routine will get established quickly.”
Eating Habits – Cutting Down on Sugar
Dr. Badi Alatasi Consultant Pediatrician and Tanya Vanswagen, Registered Dietician said “Usually during holidays, maintaining healthy eating habits or your normal weight is a difficult task for many people. Both parents and children tend to overindulge and eat junk food and sweets. It can be a challenge to resume a healthy eating habits after a long summer break. Parents should maintain a healthy lifestyle with their families over the long-term.
Many children do not like eating healthy foods and vegetables and refuse to eat them resulting in tired and worn-down parents caving in and allowing their children to eat unhealthy foods under the impression that some food is better than no food. This is a very common mistake that people make, and we encourage parents to avoid this mentality.
If a child refuses to eat then parents need to respect the child’s decision and not substitute the meal with junk food. Eventually, the child will become hungry and they will have to eat the healthy food they were offered in the first place. Parents should also lead by example when it comes to healthy habits and hence also need to be mindful of the food choices they make. Reduce the number of takeaways, increase home cooking, get rid of the junk food in the house and increase physical activity are all ways to lead by example.”
Healthy Lunches - Lunch box
Tanya Vanswagen, Registered Dietician said “Healthy carbohydrates to include would be wholegrain bread, quinoa, whole wheat pasta with a protein such as chicken, fish, beans or lentils (for fiber) and some veggies. Try and avoid fruit juices as they are alarmingly high in sugar and it’s important to avoid sugary drinks. Healthy snack ideas would be hummus and carrot sticks, light cheese such as Babybels, low fat cheese and unsweetened yogurt.
Too much sugar makes children hyper active and makes it hard for them to focus in class, partake in other activities or even sleep. If they are not active and they consume high amounts of sugar and sweets in their diet they start to gain weight.
If the child has lunch from the school cafeteria, it is important that the parents know what food is available in term is quality and hygiene of the food, so they can make informed decisions about healthy nutrition for their child. It is important that children are taught how to choose the right food in the right amounts as this will reflect their eating habits in the long run.”
Staying Healthy – Avoid Airborne Bacteria and Viruses - Get Immunized!
Dr. Badi Alatasi Consultant Pediatrician saqid “There seems to be a great deal of controversy regarding flu shots and the side effects they have on children and adults. When is comes to medication we must always consider the benefits versus limitations. We recommend that children and adults get immunized every year as the health benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
Children should also be taught how to use hand sanitizer, protect their coughs and wash their hands properly before eating or touching their faces. However, in schools, the risk of catching an airborne infection from another child is high which leads to children getting sick during term-time. These measures will help reduce the chances of your child contracting contagious bugs”.