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Staying Healthy

Practicing Illness Prevention

Children need to be in the best possible health in order to reach their full potential. Illnesses cause children to miss school and parents to miss work. This podcast will give you tips on how to keep your family healthy by preventing illnesses before they begin.

There are many things you can do to help you and your family stay healthy and reduce your chances of getting sick.

You can prevent illnesses before they begin by developing some basic strategies, such as teaching your children good hygiene, making sure they are getting enough sleep, and eating properly.

Many illnesses are spread by children because they have increased contact with each other and often put shared items into their mouths. They are also spread through coughs and sneezes, contact with a bowel movement to food or other objects going into the mouth, direct contact between blood and body fluids, and direct contact between an infected person and uninfected person.

You can help reduce the spread at your child’s daycare by following the caregiver’s illness policy, and keeping your child home if he experiences symptoms such as a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, vomiting or diarrhea, eye infections, rash, lice or nits, and any other unusual symptoms or behavior.

One of the most successful ways to prevent the spread of disease is through regular, proper hand washing. Proper hand washing includes using soap, rubbing vigorously for 10-15 seconds, rinsing with warm water, and drying thoroughly with a clean or disposable towel. You can teach your child to do this before eating or handling food, and after using the bathroom, nose-blowing, handling anything dirty, or playing outdoors. Make sure sinks are accessible to younger children by keeping a small stool nearby, and try posting instructions with pictures as a friendly reminder.

Good dental hygiene is also a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. Poor dental care can lead to other illnesses, but you can help protect your children’s teeth by offering foods that are low in sugar, developing teeth brushing routines after meals and before bedtime, and having your child see a pediatric dentist by age one.

Also be sure to schedule regular check-ups including dental and vision. Make sure all vaccinations are current and keep a detailed medical history for each child. Remember that good health starts before your child is born. If you’re pregnant, make sure you are receiving proper pre-natal care including regular check-ups, taking pre-natal vitamins, eating well, and avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Creating a habitually healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent illness. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and managing stress.

Without enough rest, children are more likely to become sick as well as have a harder time physically, emotionally, and socially. Make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep depending on his or her age. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine that includes putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading stories helps children fall asleep more easily.

Children also need to get enough exercise. By limiting the time children spend watching television and playing video games, and increasing their level of daily activity, you can increase their chances of staying well.

Although some stress is unavoidable, prolonged stress can weaken the body’s immune system, making it easier to get sick. By developing tools to cope with stress such as getting support from family and friends, seeking counseling, or learning relaxation techniques, you can greatly reduce the harmful effects of stress.

Eating a balanced diet, including drinking adequate amounts of water, is certain to reduce illness. By shopping, cooking, and eating healthy as a family, you can help your children develop healthy eating habits now that will last a lifetime.

To download our “Staying Healthy” brochure, as well as other brochures and podcasts on important parenting topics, please visit Children’s Homes Society of California’s website at www.chs-ca.org.

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