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Ask the School Nurse: Parents' Top 9 Questions for Back to School

Worried about flu? Stress? Colds? Our school health expert answers your questions about keeping children healthy.

Getting Your Kids Off to a Healthy School Start continued...

Family affair. Busy families tend to skip physical activities together. Bond with your kids and boost the whole family's health by planning family bike rides, walks, or other exercise you can all do together.

Stress reduction for children

Slow start. Want to help make the start of school easier -- and halt the moans and groans before they begin? Set up back-to-school routines early and ease kids into them gradually. Push back bed and wake-up times by 15 minutes each week, for example. 

• Open sesame. Encourage your child to talk about the anxiety he may feel about starting school. Remind him he's not the only kid feeling nervous and that teachers are there to help. 

Meet and greet. Take your child to visit the school so she knows where her room is and can meet her teacher, the school nurse, and other staff before school starts. 

Buddy system. A friendly face can reduce first-day jitters. Have your child ride the bus or meet on the playground with a friend. 

Scare tactics. Talk to your child about bullying and give him tools to cope: Stand tall, look the bully in the eye, and firmly tell him, "I don't like what you're doing."

Other healthy habits for children

Hands on. Adopting good hand-washing habits is the best way to avoid illness. Teach your child to rub her hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before eating and after using the restroom and playing outside.

Cover up. Teach your child to sneeze and cough into a tissue or the inside of her elbow to keep infectious droplets from spraying into the air and making other kids sick. 

Home works. Most kids catch colds or flu from an under-the-weather classmate. Give your child the rest she needs and her classmates a break by keeping her home when she doesn't feel well. 

Lighten up. Carrying a backpack shouldn't be a workout for your child. Pack the bag as lightly as possible, with heavier items in the center compartment. The load should never be more than 10% to 20% of her body weight.

Reviewed on August 09, 2011

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