School is back in session across the north central region of Pennsylvania. While there is plenty of excitement to go around for both children and parents, it may be a difficult transition for your family.
To help with this period of change, it is important to prioritize your children’s health as well as your own.
Going back to school can take a toll on your child’s mental health. Anxiety is common and can be induced by new social situations and being separated from what they are comfortable with. Kids can also face the pressure of getting good grades and performing well with their extra-curricular activities.
It’s never too late to establish a routine to help take on the school year. One hour before bedtime, put away electronics and encourage reading as an alternative. Then, ensure that your children are getting at least eight hours of sleep. The less time your child sleeps, the more likely it is they show signs of depression, anxiety, or impulsive behavior.
Always check in with your children and seek extra help if necessary.
Back-to-school physicals are a great way to ensure that your child’s development and growth are on track. These appointments also provide you with the opportunity to have an open dialogue with your doctor to go over any physical or eating habits, family history, concerns, or to check if any immunizations are needed.
Routine dental and eye exams are also essential to your child’s overall wellbeing. Oral health and vision can affect your child in school more than you might think. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children that have poor oral health receive lower grades and miss school more often. Poor vision can lead children to have eye strain, headaches, and double vision just by reading the whiteboard or doing homework. Making time for dental and eye exams can put a stop to these problems early on.
While there may be less free time in your child’s day, it’s still important that they get plenty of physical activity and time to play. Being active will not only help them burn off their pent-up energy from the day, but it also helps keep them in good physical condition. Time for play is important because it helps your child’s brain develop and sparks creativity, relationship skills, and many other social and emotional habits.
You are the best role model when it comes to your child’s health. By getting physically active and eating a nutrient-rich diet, you are contributing to your children’s foundation of knowledge and development to a healthy lifestyle, plus your own overall wellness.
If you’re feeling mentally overwhelmed about the back-to-school change to your lifestyle as a parent, it’s important to remember that the back-to-school transition is just a phase, and that with time, the routines you set in place for your family will start showing the benefits. Try reaching out to other parents in your child’s class that you can connect with about your children’s school program and in turn a strong rapport could be built.
Steven Barrows, M.D., is with UPMC Primary Care and sees patients at 45 Park Dr., Montgomery. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Barrows, call 570-515-0952. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PrimaryCareNCPA.