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Monthly ArchiveJuly 2018

Common summer illnesses in children

Infections and illnesses in children during the summer are more common than you might think. Bacteria thrive in the warm, moist environments of summertime. This article aims to help increase your awareness of such conditions, and hopefully will help prevent your families becoming unwell over the holiday.

If your child is feeling fatigued most of the time in summer, do not panic because it can be due to the summer season. It can also be because your child is suddenly free from the tight routine of going to school and coping with the studies and home works and so he is feeling lazy and fatigued too. However, there are certain common infections that occur in summer and parents should be familiar with them and the causes and symptoms too.

COMMON ILLNESSES IN SUMMER

Enteroviruses

Many kids love swimming in oceans and lakes, but swallowing the water puts them at risk of exposure to enteroviruses, spread by faecal contamination in water. Symptoms range from common cold symptoms to infection of the heart or brain. Hand, foot and mouth disease is a form of enterovirus that is highly contagious (spread via saliva, mucus and faeces). It causes blisters on the hands, feet and mouth, general discomfort, fever, sore throat, and oral ulcers. The illness usually passes within ten days and doesn’t require treatment. A saltwater mouth rinse could help soothe the pain from mouth ulcers, as well as cool, soft foods eg jelly. But if your child becomes dehydrated due to reduced fluid intake or develops a high fever, seek medical help.

Whooping cough

Another infection that is particularly prevalent in summer.  It is a highly contagious bacterial lung/airways infection that causes repeated bouts of coughing and can make babies and young children very ill. Vaccination and good hygiene are excellent preventatives, so remind your kids about frequent handwashing.

Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)

This is an infection of the outer ear canal which occurs when water remains trapped in the ear, aiding bacterial growth. Symptoms include the ear feeling full and itchy, and can be extremely painful. Some children may experience temporary hearing loss.  Try to prevent water from getting stuck in the ear canal- dry your chidrens’ ears thoroughly after swimming or showering using a towel. Wearing earplugs whilst in water may also help.

Food poisoning

This reaches it peak in summer because of fast bacterial growth in heat. Norovirus is a super contagious stomach bug transmitted through contaminated water or food, from contact with an infected person or through touching a contaminated surface. It tends to be most severe in the young. Prevent food poisoning and norovirus through great hygiene, lots of hand washing and adequate refrigeration of food.

Lyme disease

Peaks in summer months when people are exposed to ticks in gardens and woods. Early treatment is necessary to prevent the disease from spreading to the nervous system, joints and heart. See a doctor if your child experiences fever, headache, body aches, rash, facial paralysis or arthritis after a tick bite. Prevent tick bites by using a repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin, and one that contains the insecticide permethrin on clothing. Always check for tick bites after coming in from a wooded or bushy area. If the tick bite spreads in anyway or your child becomes unwell after a tick bite it is best to seek medical assessment sooner rather than later.

Asthma and hay fever

Summer can be a dangerous time for kids with asthma. More air pollution, high pollen levels and increased mold growth due to high humidity all cause a spike in asthma attacks and hay fever. It is a good idea to take your child for an asthma review during the summer to ensure he/she is on the best inhaler/medication regime to avoid exacerbation of asthma and most effectively treat hay fever symptoms.

Sunstroke

This occurs when too much time has been spent in the sun, causing a rise in body temperature. Sunstroke may cause rapid pulse, disorientation, nausea, a dry swollen tongue and dehydrated, hot skin. In extreme cases, sunstroke may cause your child to become unconscious. In order to avoid sunstroke try and keep your kids in the shade during the heat of the day and ensure that they keep hydrated by providing them with lots of fluids.

Heat rash

This is typically a red or pink rash, usually on the head, neck and shoulders, resulting in itching and discomfort. Dress your kids in light clothing to help prevent it occurring. It usually goes away after a day or two and doesn’t usually require medical attention.

Helping Children Settle

Facilitate the bonding with the new environment (the pre-school) :

It’s advisable for children to get an idea of the school environment before they start, especially when the school is new for them. Many schools hold open days for children to visit the pre-school, see the classroom and playground as well as meeting the teachers. If this is not possible, information is readily available online that you can review and discuss with your child.

Facilitate the bonding with the teacher :

The teacher will be the person to provides a safety net for your child at school. If the child has the opportunity to meet them in advance this will provide a familiar face which may help reduce the initial anxiety. The teacher will be also responsible for identifying worries or anxiety in the school environment, so it is also good for parents to form a relationship and maintain close contact. Bear in mind that the teacher can also inform you if your child is not making appropriate progress in their social functioning or if they noticed any difficult situation with your child (e.g., peer bullying)

Maintain the bond with home during the first days :

Little reminders of home such as photos of the family, pets and toys as well as little post-it notes of pictures or motivational wishes can all act as a reminder of home and ease anxiety. Tell your child you will be thinking of them and give reassurance that their teacher will contact you if something is not right.

Establish a good routine :

Establishing a routine before your child starts school such as waking up, dressing independently and having meals and snacks on “school time” as well as trying on the school uniform will all help first day nerves. Buying the new stationary/uniform can also provide a practical way for children to engage in the new start. Make shopping a special and exciting experience for them.

Create a calm household routine with early bedtimes and stress-free mornings. Children who aren’t well rested or don’t have enough sleep won’t have the internal resources to cope with stressors and anxiety and they are more likely to struggle during the school day than children who have rested and slept. Early bedtimes are essential so children can deal calmly with the morning rush and with the rest of the day.

Greeting and saying goodbye :

During the settling-in period, say goodbye in a calm and brief manner, and tell your child when you’ll be back. Staff should confidently greet and say goodbye to babies and children too. Your child might like to keep a favourite toy or cuddly with them to begin with as a transitional object .

Calm their worries and fears :

Don’t dismiss any worries or concerns that your child expresses – allow them to ask lots of questions and answer them openly. There are many causes for worry of children starting to school for the first time. Most of the anxiety around school is usually caused by worries that adults might find silly, such as the fear that something bad can happy to their family while the child is at school. Reassure your child that you’ll be absolutely fine.

Help your child express their anxieties

Allow your child to vent their worries and anxieties. Give them as many opportunities as possible to express their emotions and concerns. Encourage laughter and giggling, it is a very healthy way of releasing anxiety.

Be alert for other signs on your child

In most cases, children adapt to school very well after the initial couple of weeks as routines are established and friendships are formed. But occasionally, if they have not adapted, their unhappiness might indicate a more serious issue, like being victim of peer bullying, or some academic difficulties. Ask calm questions about the everyday life at school both during the class and on the playground, listen carefully, and reflect on what your child is trying to say. If you sense something is happening or not going the right way contact the teacher to address your concerns.

 

Preparing Your Child for School

Sending your child to school for the first time is learning for both you and your child. It will be for the first time that the child will be amongst unknown people and that too for a long period. It will be easier for your child to settle at pre-school if you’ve gradually got her used to being left with other caregivers, such as grandparents, relatives, maids, and friends. Leaving her for short periods and then gradually building it up until your child is happy to be left without you will make it easier for her and reduce the separation anxiety.

Visit the pre-school You can involve your child in the preparation process by asking her to be with you while you arrange for her school supplies. She can accompany you on your first visit to the school, which would enable you to understand how she responds to the environment and watches how the caregivers, teachers and the support staff (ayahs) interact with her.” Reassure her, talk positively about the school, all the fun activities such as playing outside in the park, painting pictures, playing with sand and water, singing songs, and building with blocks that go on, the other children and the staff.

Potty training Teaching a few self-help skills will help the child to be more self-sufficient. Some parents are anxious about potty training. However, all pre-school staff is prepared for occasional accidents and won’t expect children to ask every time they need the toilet – they’ll get plenty of gentle reminders. Pack spare pants and a change of clothes in your child’s bag just in case and tell him that no-one will be angry if they do have an accident.

Feeding themselves Although it is healthy to start with a breakfast, avoid forcing the child to have a heavy breakfast. Pack something which your child likes and is easy to eat and is not messy. Help her practice eating at home on her own to enable her to be more independent. Make sure you tell the school staff about any food allergies or intolerances.

On the first day Your child may not be prepared for you to just drop her off and leave on the first day, so be prepared to hang around until she’s settled. Tell her honestly when you will be back instead of fooling her off with false statements such as “Mummy’s just going to the washroom” when you make your exit. Tell her you’ll be back after lunch/drink and biscuit me/story time. In most cases, your child will be enjoying their exciting new experience. You could still leave your number with the staff so that if required, you can be contacted.

Communicate and Answer Questions : The unknown aspects regarding kindergarten trigger anxiety in many children. This is especially true if your child has never attended school before. Don’t minimize your child’s fears by using phrases such as, “You shouldn’t be scared about starting school,” or “pre school is fun and easy!” Instead, acknowledge your child’s feelings and thank her for being honest with you.

Help Your Child Make Friends :If you know of other children who will be attending kindergarten at the same school, you may consider setting up a playdate in the days or weeks leading up to the first day. This will give your child a sense of comraderie and ensure that each of them sees some familiar faces on the first day. Perhaps you can even arrange to meet before school on the first day and go into the classroom or building together.

Additionally, you could also plan an informal gathering (perhaps at the park) for classmates and parents sometime during the first couple of weekends after school has started. This will help break the ice a bit more in an informal, non-school setting where kids feel more relaxed. It will also help you get acquainted with other parents—something that comes in handy later when kids start asking for playdates in other people’s homes.

Stay Positive :As a parent, you are likely dealing with a wide range of emotions as your child prepares to begin play school. Even if you are feeling sad at the thought of your baby growing up, do your best to project a happy, positive attitude about school to your child.Your tears might be because of your little one’s accomplishments as you are talking about school, but your child can interpret this as sadness. Be sure to remain upbeat and excited as you remind your child about all of the wonderful things she will get to experience as a kindergarten student.

Starting your child on an exercise program

An exercise program for your children is so important because of the large amount of health problems associated with those are inactive—namely obesity. Since 1974, the number of  children classified as obese under the age of 11 has increased more than four times; from  roughly 4 per cent to over 16 per cent in 2000 with the single largest cause of obesity is lack of exercise.

To help your child avoid these health risks, not to mention the psychological risks of being outcast because of weight, you need to set them up on a regular exercise program. Children’s exercise programs are not hard to do—just get them outside or keep them inside, but focus on them getting active.

It’s important to realize than a children’s exercise program does not necessarily mean pumping iron—rather it has more to do with cardiovascular activities that burn lots of energy. Examples of great cardiovascular activities are running, swimming, rowing,canoeing, rock climbing—the list goes on. It also doesn’t need to be simply running—it can be a game of tag, catch, playing soccer outdoors; anything that gets your kids heart beating and gets them sweating a bit.

Research has also shown that obese children tend to be more depressed than other children who are fit. In addition, physical activities, especially cardiovascular activities can actually make you feel great. The so called “runner’s high” is caused when someone who is engaged a high amount of cardiovascular activity gets a massive dump of dopamine into the brain—a chemical that instills a euphoric state in the person doing the activity, a natural high.

It would seem logical that getting your child on an exercise program should be a paramount as a parent to ensure the health and happiness of your child. But along with the exercise goes a good diet, healthy relationships, staying active, and of course, laughing a lot. All of these things contribute to your child’s life, and an exercise program for your child is, in reality, just a piece of the puzzle.

Mindful Eating, ADHD and Nutrition

The words attention deficit are so strongly associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many people overlook other far-reaching consequences of the disorder. Among them are poor eating habits, eating disorders, and a higher-than-average risk of becoming overweight as a result of having ADHD. For example, a recent study linked ADHD to binge eating. How these eating issues happen makes a lot of sense when you understand the impact of ADHD on life management as a whole.

Executive function includes cognitive abilities that act as the brain’s manager. ADHD is essentially a consequence of poor executive function, not inattention or impulsiveness. That means it undermines skills such as time management, decision making, organization, and planning. For people with ADHD all these management-level mental abilities can be difficult.

Striking a Balance between the Delicious and the Nutritious

Embraced in a lifestyle that is beaming with options, we all get to frequent malls and supermarkets with aisles full of foods spoiling us with choices like never before. Add to that food offered by street vendors, again, in a bewildering variety of temptations. Now, as parents, what food shall we choose for our children?

Well, the bottom-line is, the simplest foods are still the best for children. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, and natural dairy goods have always been and will always be the best choices to make.

However, the conflict resides in the battle between taste buds and health needs. Let’s face it, we, as urban twenty-first century parents, encourage a great deal of children’s personal preferences in food. The reasons are evident: children these days are more opinionated about their personal likes and dislikes; moreover, readymade delicacies are at the finger tips, thanks to the countless dial-ins in the neighborhood – an easy way out to pamper taste buds with mouth-watering indulgences.

So, what do we do to strike a balance between the delicious and the nutritious? One simple thing to do is to read the labels before purchasing food items. Most labels indicate the contents of additives, preservatives, emulsifying agents, and so on. The ground rule is, lesser the added components, better are the nutritional values. For example, a loaf of whole grain bread with basic ingredients is a better choice over a fancy loaf with a whole paragraph of refined ingredients. So stick to the basics or the naturals, in as unprocessed forms as possible.

Children should be encouraged at a very early age to eat natural produce. It is far better to have your child chew through an orange rather than picking that convenient carton of juice. Instant noodles are yet another favorite grub with children, but you will think twice as parents if you visited the inside story. An anti-freeze ingredient called propylene glycol, used to retain the optimum level of moisture in instant noodles, is believed to be weakening the immune system. Add to that the flavoring agents, the high sodium content, and the wax – certainly not best friends to health.

Stick to the basic and the wholesome. Correct food choice is not about recipes, but about ingredients. Instead of those sodium and chemical laden pizza sauces, consider coming up your own version. All you need is a fusion of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, some Italian seasoning, and natural taste builders like tomatoes, olives, etc. And there you go, load your home-made pizza with your loved one’s favorite toppings! Sneak in an enormous amount of vegetables onto the disc, along with a generous spread of grilled proteins like chicken or lean fish. This will make nothing less than a visual, gustatory, and nutritive treat to your child. Avoid loading down with more than just a thin layer of cheese. When the tangy tomatoes and the vegetables bubble together in the oven, the freshness of the ingredients and the enhanced flavors will make your child not notice the lack of cheese or the big portion of veggies they ate. And you can pat yourself on the back for a job done well!