While children are unavoidably more vulnerable to colds and flu – there are things parents can do to help prevent their little ones from falling sick and missing out on important school days. Seasonal colds typically last longer than parents expect – from around 6 to 14 days – a significant period of time for a child to be out of action.
“Learning the discipline of attending school every day and maintaining health in order to do so, is an important skill. Beyond missing out on new concepts and class discussions, studies have found that a trend of absenteeism translates from school into working life,” says Lynne Arbuckle, primary school principal at Riverside College.
Lynne’s tips to avoid winter colds:
- Scrub those hands: Frequent hand washing is the most effective way to prevent cold and virus transmission. Yet studies have found that simply telling a child to wash their hands might not be effective; if parents teach their kids that they are washing off invisible germs, and why, kids are more likely to engage in the behaviour.
- Drink water: Once the chill sets in, the motivation to drink water might dry up – but children need to keep stay hydrated. This promotes a strong immune system, which in turn helps the body fight off any germs it comes across. Often dehydration is the cause behind a headache or stomachache, so if your child presents with these complaints – give them a glass of water before turning to a pill.
- Rest up: Constant activity and staying up late does not allow one’s body to rest and recoup. In order to have a strong immune system, children need down time, even more so than adults. Encourage activity and exercise – but stick to bed times, monitor the energy levels of your kids and intervene if they are looking or feeling run down.
- Tackle flu directly: Children under 12 are one of the most at-risk groups for seasonal flu, which can cause serious respiratory tract infections and fever. It is worth getting flu jabs for the whole family annually.
Lynne Arbuckle was appointed principle of Riverside College in 2013. She has a Higher Diploma in Education from Johannesburg College of Education and has been teaching for the past 18 years. Riverside College, which is based on Burgundy Estate, offers a holistic approach to education; classes are capped at 24 learners and a comprehensive academic, sports and extra mural activity programme is offered.
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On behalf of Riverside College
Director: Elana Edwards
Primary school principle: Lynne Arbuckle