Protecting kids against germs at school

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

When the Mookid started school earlier this year, we were cautioned against him falling sick more often than usual due to the viruses and germs which are more pronounced in school. We totally understand this because it's difficult enough to try to protect the kids from falling sick due to germs at home, more so when they start going to school and are exposed to different kinds of germs and infections which may be present in anyone and just about anywhere.

While we cannot keep the kids totally germ-free short of keeping them in a bubble dome, we can teach them several ways to ensure that they learn to protect themselves from contracting illnesses due to germs as much as possible.

Tips to help minimize the spread of germs

1. Keep hands out of nose, mouth and eyes

Children do not yet understand the dangers which can come about by introducing dirty hands into the system. They are curious, and will not think twice about touching things, especially those that they are not familiar with. Although the flu virus is spread when the droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, it is entirely possible to get it when we come into contact with surface on which these droplets are present.

It is important to inform the children to keep their hands away from their noses, mouths and eyes, and to keep on drilling this knowledge in them by introducing songs or games to make it easier for them to remember and understand. Done intensively (never mind that mummy's a nag!) it becomes a habit and second nature to them.

2. Immunization

We're lax when it comes to imposing the 'do's and don'ts' in parenting by the book, but we make sure that there are certain things that we abide to the letter. The Mookid has never missed a single vaccination from the time he was born up to date, and even if for any reason he was unable to, we will always reschedule. Better be safe than sorry! 

3. The importance of hand washing

Hand washing is such a simple thing to do, but in many cases, it can make the difference between life and death. In many countries, perhaps due to ignorance and lack of information, kids get exposed to many germs and bacteria which attack their immune system and causes them to face life threatening illnesses which can be prevented by the simple act of hand washing. 

Choose a hand wash which is well reputed to kill germs, and teach the children the importance of washing their hands from young. 

Lifebuoy's range of hand washes kills 99.9% of bacteria, and their new 'Hulk of hand washes' product gives kids something fun to look forward to, while giving a clear indication of the time needed to kill germs present. 10 seconds is all it takes, actually the time it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' once!

4. The importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet 

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins which will strengthen the immune system and help protect them against common illnesses which is prevalent in children, such as flu, coughs and viral infections.

Furthermore, they are the next best alternative to expensive immunity boosters and bottled vitamins!

5. Understanding about the spread of germs

It is our responsibility to teach our  kids about how germs are spread through contact with other kids who are unwell. Educate the children about the importance of covering their noses and mouths when they cough or sneeze, and turning away from other children when they feel the urge to do so. They should also be made aware of the illnesses which can spread to them should other kids sneeze and cough around them, and be taught to stay away as much as possible.

Children should also be taught not to eat anything which has dropped on the table. There are germs present, and it is a good hygiene habit to implement especially when they are exposed to communal eating practices in school.

***

Never, ever underestimate a child's ability to understand. Even though they may be considered young, good hygiene habits can be taught even from a very early age. Even though they may seem oblivious to your words, children are known to store information and peruse them when they are able to show that they understand.

We don't believe in 'overprotecting' the kid when it comes to exposure. We don't keep him home and disinfect everything in sight, neither do we stop him from going to indoor playgrounds where there are hundreds of kids at play every day. Furthermore, play also expends energy and provides them with the necessary exercise to keep fit. The occurrence of upper respiratory illnesses can be reduced by exercising.

On our part, we do our best to ensure that he is sufficiently protected by ensuring that his hands are washed before and after play, and even as a wee bub, we tell him that he should not put non-food objects in his mouth. We chose to let his body build up its natural immune system, and at the same time, do what we can to minimize the risks. A little dirt is good for them, as long as we find that balance between exposing them to germs which are everywhere, and ensuring that it doesn't affect them in ways that will be detrimental instead.




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