Preparing children for a healthy back-to-school


Dr. Dasan Karatmana
MBBS, MD, Specialist in Paediatrics

The health, behavior and intellectual levels of children are closely associated with that of their parents. Teachers and parents are role models of children and have a strong impact on the development of children. Parents can help children develop good habits that have lasting effect on the child’s future.

Most of the schools in Kuwait start early in the morning. If a child has the habit of sleeping very late, he will find it difficult to get up fresh from bed in the morning. In order to avoid this, parents should cultivate the habit of sleeping early and getting up early. In order to catch the school bus, say at 6am the child should wake up at least by 5am and have a healthy breakfast before leaving for school.

Unfortunately, many children go to school without having proper and adequate breakfast, instead they carry food to eat later at school. The children probably open their food box around 11am by which time the food may have a foul smell and become tasteless. Children then avoid taking such food.

The child cannot concentrate on studies on an empty stomach and usually end up distracted or drowsy and could even fall asleep in class. It is recommended that before sending them to school, children should be given a good healthy breakfast with variety of items that provide nourishment to last them through the school hours.

Even though parents may get some transient relief from the agitated activities of their children by allowing them to frequently view such content, in the long run, the children could end up becoming idle, tensed and quickly agitated, as well as unhealthy from munching on all those salty or sugary snacks. Extra TV time can also lead to some children even having difficulty in speaking and lacking concentration in their studies. Parents should ensure that TV time is limited and strictly monitored.

Before going to school children should wear neat and tidy loose dresses. The stockings should be changed every day as the sweat that accumulates in socks could lead to foul smell and probably fungal infection later.

Children should also be trained to not hold the urine or bowel for long time which can cause severe urinary tract or bowel infections, as well as other kidney related problems and sometimes encopresis, or involuntary defecation. Some children also do not drink sufficient water at home to avoid urination during school hours. Children provide simple excuses such as the washrooms are not tidy, too smelly, or that the teachers do not allow them to go to washrooms. It is mandatory for the children to go to the toilets on regular basis and it is the duty of the school authorities to keep the washrooms tidy and neat, and easily accessible to the children.

Another trend these days is for parents to provide children with some snacks and show cartoons and other video to avoid their hyper activities or to shift their attention. However, this leads to an addiction for TV time, with some children ending up imitating the sounds, behavior and gestures of the TV characters.

From the outset, parents should encourage children to follow a healthy and disciplined way of life. In addition, parents should be careful not to respond with retaliatory and punitive measures for any misgivings on the part of children as they are likely to become angry, ashamed and resistant to this heavy-handed intervention.

Also, in today’s rushed schedule of things to do, children and the parents often do not get to spend any quality time together. They do not have the opportunity to talk and discuss any topics between them. Remember that each child is an individual, a gift of God, and we should respect their feelings by talking to them and listening to their viewpoints.

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