From coast to coast, many hospital emergency rooms are teeming with people suffering from flu or flu-like symptoms, as experts warn this could be one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the flu and flu-like illnesses are widespread, now reaching most states; the outbreak is described as “high” in 26 states. The vast majority of these cases are from the influenza A H3N2 virus, which has been associated with a higher than normal number of hospitalizations and deaths among young children and senior citizens over the age of 65.
For parents sending their children to school during flu season, it may feel like you’re playing a game of Russian roulette with your child’s health. After all, children are one of the groups that have a high rate of influenza infection.And with so many students in close contact throughout the school day, touching dirty doorknobs, sharing desks, and eating together at lunch time, it’s the ideal environment for an infectious illness to spread.
Many parents may not realize that the flu and a cold are not the same thing. They are caused by different viruses, and while they are both respiratory illnesses with a few similar symptoms, a cold is much milder than the flu, which can have serious complications.
Typical flu symptoms include:
fever and/or chills
In some cases, symptoms can include vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more likely to occur in children than grown-ups.
The flu ordinarily runs its course in a few days to a couple of weeks. But parents may not know that complications from the flu can land their child in the hospital, and in some cases, it can be fatal. Five-year-old Caroline Miller was one of the lucky ones; she survived, but her recovery from flu complications took several months.
Short of keeping your child in a bubble, the best way to protect your children – and yourself – is to get a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a “Take 3” approach to fending off the flu – vaccination, healthy habits, and taking anti-viral drugs if prescribed by your doctor. Another resource for parents is Families Fighting Flu. This group has partnered with the CDC in its “Keep Flu Out of School” program to help raise awareness about the burden of influenza in schools. This helpful website and associated resources highlight ways to help schools minimize the potential for students to contract – or spread – illness this flu season.
If, despite your best efforts, your child does contract the flu, the CDC even offers useful advice to help you take care of your ailing student, and explains when it’s okay to send your child back to school.
You may not realize this, but as a parent, you have a considerable effect and impact on your child or children and the way they live. We’re not just talking about at a young age either. Your actions and decisions today will affect who they are tomorrow and ten years from now. They will learn from you, and while it’s not always the case, a child can grow up to be quite similar to their mother or father. This is partially nature and partially due to nurture. The way you choose to raise your children will have an impact.
One of the most basic examples would be views of the world. You might remember, not so long ago, that a video of a child who had been bullied went viral. He was recorded by his mother on camera asking why he didn’t have friends and why people bullied him. Almost immediately, the support came flooding in to help this child. Celebrities joined in the cause, and it soon became a story known across the world. Unfortunately, it was then revealed that the child was bullied because he used racist language in school. Users online investigated the family to discover that the mother had a history of using racist language online and supported the federal flag. Support for the child quickly deteriorated but a few were quick to point out that the child wasn’t to blame for the family they had grown up around. They were right of course. At a certain point, a kid has to learn right from wrong, but that’s difficult to do when the parents are setting a bad example.
The same is true for healthy living. If you don’t lead by example, you can’t expect children to know the importance of looking after their health. So, how do you do this?
Explore The Different Diet Options
These days from vegan to vegetarian to avoiding gluten to avoiding dairy, there are various types of dietary options to explore that may be beneficial to your family. We’re not suggesting that you force your kids to eat a certain way or avoid certain foods. If you do this, you’re just asking for trouble, and you could ultimately find yourself in a position where they simply look elsewhere to get the chocolate or even the meat that they want.
Be that as it may, it’s important that kids know that they have different options for their diet and that, once they reach a certain age, you support a healthy decision. For instance, your child might decide to go vegan. If that’s the case, you don’t need to go vegan yourself. But you do need to make sure that you are buying them the right food and learning to prepare it.
Cut Out Bad Habits
You would be amazed how early on kids start to notice certain habits that may be damaging your health. Take salt as an example. Do you regularly add salt to your meals at the dinner table? If so, your child may have noticed this. Particularly if your partner has addressed the issue in front of them. The child may realise that salt is bad for you or they may follow in the footsteps of their other parent and add more salt to their food. Don’t forget that at certain ages throughout development kids see you, their parents, as superheroes that can do no wrong. They could certainly follow in your footsteps and not for the right reasons.
A more extreme example would be alcohol or smoking. If you think that either of these behaviours is bad for your health be aware that doing it will normalise this for your children. They will grow up thinking that there’s nothing wrong with it and even if you warn them of the dangers at a certain age the child will realize you don’t have a leg stand on. The reason for this is the question: Why? Why can they have it and I can’t? If you’re still researching how to quit drinking alcohol or how to stop smoking, it may help you to know that there are various methods online that could help you out a lot. It’s certainly not easy, and it can take a lot of work. But it’s always great to be able to show your kids that you’ve quit an unhealthy habit so you can encourage them to do the same.
Make Fitness Family Time
There is definitely a struggle right now for parents who are desperate to get kids outside, exercising in the fresh air. Kids want to play on their computers; they want to stay on their phones or just watch TV. With even more tech than ever before, you have to drag your kids out through the front door, but at a young age, you do have an incredible opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to exercise when they are little.
Even weight training has been shown to have a positive impact on their growth and their strength as well as their motor skills. The important thing is to make sure that fitness is as much about spending time with the family as it is staying healthy.
It’s also worth noting that the exercise in question does not have to be particularly strenuous. Instead, it can be as simple as going for a walk. Take a drive and take the whole family for a couple of miles on a walk around a lake. You’ll get just as much of an impact from this as you do from hitting the gym for a couple of hours with the kids. But it’s far more enjoyable. Don’t forget; you can also plan your family trips around the possibility of encouraging fitness.
Heading out camping or going an adventure holiday will mean plenty of activities that get the blood pumping and the body sweating. It’s a healthy alternative to the typical trip to a theme park or a relaxing vacation on a beach.
Get Them Cooking
A lot of parents focus on making sure that they are giving their kids at least one home cooked meal every day. Some will settle managing it once a week. However, it is important that you do cook for your kids as regularly as possible. Processed foods are your greatest enemy. Remember, food that is processed tends to be packed full of sugar to add flavor to something that uses the leftovers and the scraps.
By giving them a home cooked meal, you can use organic produce and make sure that you include the best meats. You can also prepare the food yourself so you’ll get to decide what you cook it in. A tip would be to drain out the fat that builds up when cooking meat on the hob.
As well as this, you do want to get kids involved in cooking as early as possible. By doing this, you can make sure that they are invested in what they are eating and what they are putting in their bodies. You’ll soon discover that they are eager to make sure that they are eating right as they learn from you what is good and bad for them. Believe it or not, this is a far better trick than trying to convince young children that vegetables will make them super strong or provide them with night vision like an army cadet. We hope you see now that there are various options of how to lead by example when teaching your kids to be healthy. It is the best way to get them on the right path, even from an early age.
While all parents have different beliefs and life goals for their family, raising healthy kids is the priority for everyone. Unfortunately, encouraging kids to follow the plan of action is often a lot easier said than done. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to increase your chances of success.
Seeing the full picture is essential if you’re going to get your kids to adopt the right habits. Use the advice below for guidance, and you won’t go far wrong.
Healthy Eating Needs To Be Fun
Nutrition sits at the heart of all healthy living plans, and yours should be no different. Kids won’t make it easy, which is why you must adapt ideas to suit them. Working with children rather than battling them is always the best solution.
Given that their taste buds haven’t matured, you cannot expect them to like all the healthy foods that you do. Meanwhile, it’s equally imperative to inject a sense of enjoyment. Get them involved with simple recipes like these chicken egg rolls. Add a competitive factor by seeing who can make the most attractive goods, and you’ll see a noticeable impact.
Children shouldn’t be prevented from having the odd treat either. Moderation is the key, and those snacks should complement healthy meals rather than replace them. If you still struggle to get kids eating healthy foods, it could be due to another issue. Food intolerance testing may be necessary.
It’s Never Too Early to Start
Have you ever noticed how most people that are scared of flying are the ones that didn’t take their first trip until they were old enough to know the dangers? That’s because those that started early have become acclimatized to the concept before it has a chance to feel weird. Those sentiments ring true with family health too.
Getting kids to change their ways is far harder than instilling the right ideas from the start. This is especially true when it comes to things like dental health. As well as good daily rituals, you should consult experts like Dr. Julio C. Rosado & Associates at the earliest stage. When those checkups become a natural part of life, it removes any sense of fear. In turn, maintaining healthy teeth is easy.
Likewise, promoting sports and exercise from an early age can be highly beneficial. Let your child become a couch potato, and breaking the spell can feel impossible.
Your Children aren’t In Competition
It’s very easy to compare your kids to their friends and classmates. Meanwhile, you’ve probably read books and guides that suggest an expected time for certain milestones to be achieved. Those barometers are great, but you must not overlook your child’s individuality.
Kids develop at different rates, especially when you take factors like prematurity into account. Developing a patient nature is vital. You must always encourage without stepping into the realm of forcing kids to do things that they can’t achieve. If you’re still worried, experts like Temple Grandin can test your child for signs of autism and conditions. Those issues needn’t stop your child developing in a healthy and happy manner. Still, adjusting your support is key.
Your child is on an individual journey. The support is available regardless of their personal circumstances, so you needn’t feel overawed. As long as you remember to celebrate their achievements too, you won’t go far wrong.
I have partnered with Kidfresh as a part of this feature
Anthony is heading into his tweens at almost 10 and in sports year round. This past season his eating habits have started to change as he enters his tweens. He is the youngest of 3 boys and I have learned with the older 2 that discussing proper eating habits with your child about this age helps tremendously. When I look back I can remember chuckling at the oldest walking away with an entire box of crackers only to find them devoured, but never did I even consider the actual ramifications and have discussions.
The next boy came along and I started with the attitude “..if I don’t buy it they can’t eat it…” and that wasn’t working because when he did get exposed to sweets or snacks he went nuts devouring them while he could. I began teaching him labels. It was simple like comparing 1 snack to the other or talking about cereals and the whys and why nots. I wasn’t just saying “no” to certain snacks but educating him as to exactly why I say no.
With Anthony I started at age 9, much earlier and he gets it. He never truly sits down and finishes an entire meal but rather is our little grazer. I am OK with that because I have learned some tricks along the way to balance what he eats whenever he is hungry and he is the healthiest, leanest and most active of the 3.
Buy Snack Bowls
I bought some portion snack bowls. If Anthony wants a snack he is allowed any from HIS snack shelf and only as much as what fits in the snack bowl. He is NEVER walking away with entire box of crackers to devour mindlessly in front of a game. Over snacking is never a fight nor is he ever too full for dinner when he can snack on his choice and stop before over eating.
Of course, I always explain my ‘WHY’ and I simply tell him that a snack is just that…a snack. No body his size is meant to devour a box of crackers so I show him the box. There is a serving size on all foods and if it says 13 crackers is a serving size then we count out 13 crackers together put them in the snack bowl and see what a real snack size truly is. He takes that to heart and I have even caught him studying a new snack box to count out a serving size by himself.
If They Aren’t Hungry, They Aren’t Hungry
I have never forced by boys to eat. I never kept them at the table until all of the food was gone. I personally felt that that was teaching them to eat out of habit and to be OK with eating even when they aren’t really hungry. Now, before some of you judge because I know many parents who’s style may differ form me they would finish their meals. My husband and I would take what they did not finish (if they left a significant amount) and put it in the microwave. When they came back an hour later hungry we would reheat their dinner and dessert came whenever dinner was done, even if it took them 2 shifts.
Keep Mini Meals On Hand
Mini meals? These are my go-to on busy practice nights and game days. What is considered a mini meal? Remember when they were younger there were toddler meals you can heat in a microwave? These are now widely available in healthy options like the Kidfresh meals. Kidfresh hides veggies and do not add anything artificial into their foods. Plenty for a toddler and a great snack or mini meal for tweens and teens!
He comes home from school starved and on practice days dinner comes after practice so his 3:30pm Kidfresh meal is healthy and tides him over until after practice much better than a handful of cookies and fruits snacks. He loves the Mac ‘n Cheese and the Super Duper Chicken Nuggets can be divided into 2 meals because there are 10 good size nuggets inside and 5 is a great size snack.
Kidfresh is even great tasting for Moms and Dads! How do I know? I may or may not heat one up for myself some days for lunch. Who can resist a good Mac ‘n Cheese made with real cheese! Your child gets healthy proteins, very little sodium and fats with hidden veggies and no GMO’s.
Besides Mac ‘n Cheese and nuggets you will find 10 main meal options in total and some come in value sizes. You also can find snacks, sides and breakfast options. Your tween can easily heat these up themselves in the microwave introducing that independence in cooking and a wholesome snack keeping them ‘proper’ full until their next meal. Learn more at Kidfresh including where to find these near you.
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Mistakes may be one word, but should it be looked at that way? If we break the word into 2 you get mis-takes as in do over, a miss you had meaning you can try again. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow.
In the book Mis-takes your child will celebrate mistakes and be proud that they took a chance. Worse than making a mistake is never trying at all. Even adults make mistakes, we all have to. Simple and great for child educators and Influencers, Mis-takes will turn that disappointment into celebration as they follow along.