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Let's help ease some school stress on our kids

This month with the onset of fall and the start of a new school year, we are dedicating our monthly topic to helping the kids have a great new school year. Last week we talked about setting the year up for success by getting the kids the proper amount of sleep, a great breakfast, and proper clothing for the weather. Our goal this week for helping the kids have a great year is to do everything we can to not stress the immune system so we can keep everybody in school.

Stresses come in various sizes, shapes, and types for these kids. Stress comes from the pressure to do well academically, from the social activities that the kids experience at their appropriate age levels, but also from smaller things like diet and physical activity. We want to do as much as possible to alleviate as many of these stresses as we can. Stress is not only hard on the kids mentally and physically, but also as we learned last year, will deplete their immune systems.

One stress that is often overlooked is that of properly fitting extracurricular activities equipment. I coached soccer at the high school level and can tell you that equipment day is often times like herding cats. The problem is that most of the kids and the parents are concerned with what shows when the kids are being seen on event day. If the protective gear including the shoes do not fit properly, we are looking at accidents waiting to happen. The kids like to imitate their sports heroes on tv and will want specific brands. They will want to wear the gear like the pros, right down to how that gear fits. Please make sure that you are, if you are required to buy shoes or other gear for your child's activity, buying for the right reason and not for the name on the gear. My advice is for parents to have their young athletes try on all their gear at home that was handed out at school and check for proper fit.

Shoes are an important subject even if your child is not on a sports team. Shoes have a life span. Most shoes are designed to be thrown away due to wear at about the 250-mile point. Children average about 12 miles per week, so the shoes are likely only good for about half a school year. The children that are undergoing rapid growth spurts will likely outgrow the shoes well before that point.

Back packs are a source of discomfort and pain for children that is often overlooked. A backpack should be worn over both shoulders and should fit snug to the back at the top of the backpack. A one shoulder backpack can lead to over stressing the muscles between the neck and shoulder that can lead to headaches or even arm/hand tingling. I recommend no more than 15 to 20% of the child’s body weight be placed in the backpack.

Another place that needs to be checked for the children is their vision. If their glasses are not right or even if they need glasses, they will strain their eyes and end up with headaches. Visual issues can lead to other complications that can be avoided by a visit to the eye doctor. If you should have any concerns and would like to have your child’s eyes tested for visual acuity, you can contact my office where I will test visual acuity for you for free. If your child cannot pass this test, we can recommend several excellent optometrists.

Let’s all do everything we can to make our kids, safe, comfortable, and healthy all school year long. Talk to you next week as we continue a discussion on helping our kids to a great school year.

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