Supporting Your Child’s Health as Schools Reopen
In the past two years, children have had to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic with little choice. Due to social distancing measures, many children have been forced to do almost every activity online, including classes, graduations, and birthdays. Now, they have to adjust again; this time, they’re going back to school in an entirely different context.
And the children themselves have changed a lot since the pandemic. Research from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center found that children may have grown more fearful, anxious, worried, nervous, restless, or irritable, and are still struggling with the social, emotional, and behavioral effects of school closures and home confinement.
Children can’t live in bubbles, so we have to open up schools in the safest way possible. We have to teach our children safe practices and harm reduction techniques to minimize the spread of the virus or any illness for that matter. Moreover, it’s also essential to prepare for any emotional challenges ahead.
To help with this process, here are some ways you can support your kids as they go back to school:
Talk to your child about their concerns
Even in ordinary school years, the first few weeks of school can make children feel nervous. Coupled with a global pandemic, your child is likely facing some anxiety as schools reopen. They may feel it’s still unsafe, as they’re unused to living with the virus.
Help make your children feel at ease by opening up a conversation about these worries and letting them know that they are natural and valid emotions, especially with everyone else struggling, too. It’s equally important to be honest about any changes they can expect — like mask-wearing — and how these rules are essential to keep them and your family safe. You can also remind them of the positive side of physically returning to school, like how they can see their friends and teachers in person after a long time.
Follow community health guidelines
Community health workers are the people best equipped to give parents specific guidelines to follow as schools reopen. According to studies from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, community healthcare professionals are well-positioned to address any misinformation, fear, or stigma surrounding your family’s health, because they can provide timely, accurate information on virus transmission, protective precautions, and tools for support.
On the other hand, Maryville University’s program on healthcare studies discusses how these community healthcare professionals are equipped with knowledge in human anatomy, nutrition, and public health so they can advise you on how to help your children stay healthy. It’s good to follow their advice on what protective materials students can bring. In fact, many healthcare graduates also have perspectives on psychology, so they are prepared to handle questions on mental wellness among children. After all, health should be holistic and cover both the physical and psychosocial aspects.
Teach them how to practice health protocols
To reduce the risk of infection, introduce the basic health protocols to your child. Encourage regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Teach your child to cover a cough or a sneeze with the inside of their elbow.
For more information on how to combine the best practices and treatments in both alternative and conventional pediatrics, learn from Dr. Gator today.
Check out the Wellness Kit here.
Article written by Jenny Rothers
Exclusively for Integrative Pediatrics