Have kids wash their hands frequently at home and school.
Since kids often touch their mouths, noses, and faces, parents should make sure their kids’ hands are washed with soap and water to remove germs before eating, after using the bathroom, when they come inside from playing, and after coughing or sneezing. Hand sanitizer can be used for times it’s not possible to wash with soap and water but handwashing still reigns supreme.
Get active indoors and outdoors.
Kids should get regular, moderate exercise to boost their immune systems. Being active can help reduce cold and flu episodes.
Get plenty of sleep.
Children require between 9 and 14 hours of sleep a day depending on their age. Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of getting sick.
Maintain a well-balanced diet.
Provide meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to help boost children’s immune systems. Prepare and plan to eat foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin D, and avoid foods high in additives, colors, preservatives, and sugars.
Drink plenty of fluids like water or electrolyte drinks. Avoid sugary choices.
Elevated stress hormones can lead to decreased immunity. Give kids plenty of down time for rest and creative play to help lower their stress levels and prevent illness.
Avoid germy sharing.
Sharing is good for kids, but many commonly shared items can be breeding grounds for germs. Teach children to never share straws and cups, caps and scarves, or anything that comes in contact with their mouths, noses, and faces.
Stay home when ill.
When kids do get sick, it’s important for parents to keep them home and take steps to prevent germs from spreading to others. While recovering at home, keep sick family members together, separate from those who are well. Ideally, designate a separate sleeping and living area as well as a bathroom for those who are ill. If families are unable to separate, wearing a mask will help limit exposure to other members of the household.
Ways to stop the spread at home.
Regularly wipe down common areas or high-touch areas with antibacterial disinfectant. This includes surfaces such as countertops, door handles, cabinet pulls, light switches, refrigerator, microwave, bathroom faucets, and toilet seats. Don’t forget about frequently touched surfaces in your family vehicle as well.
If a doctor’s visit is necessary, virtual appointments make it easy to see a provider from the comforts of your home. If you’re unsure whether an illness requires a doctor’s visit, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Rebecca Lindner MSN, RN
The Achieve Center blog is written by the professionals who are focused on children's mental health.