Every Fall, when parents send their kids off to school, they can be assured of two things. The first thing is that it’s time to buy a lot of school supplies. The second is that the kids are almost guaranteed to come home with the flu or a cold at some point before the semester is over.
According to WebMD, the average American school-aged child has between six and ten colds per year. If that number sounds unbelievable, think back to your school days: you were sick more often than you might remember.
So, why do school-aged kids get sick so often, and what can parents do to help?
Kids, unlike most adults, don’t have as good of an understanding of the behaviors that are likely to make them get sick. When you see grade-schoolers interacting, you’ll notice them doing things that most adults simply don’t do with their peers. Holding hands, hugging, running and singing are all close contact activities that kids engage in regularly with their friends at school.
The other major reason is one that any parent can identify immediately: kids don’t take measures to prevent the spread of germs. If you visit any grade-school classroom for more than an hour, you’re almost guaranteed to see at least one kid open-mouth cough on another. You’ll probably also see more fingers in noses and objects placed in mouths than you’d expect. All of these behaviors are more likely to lead to the spread of illness.
There are a number of steps parents can take to help their kids stay healthy. The first, of course, is to make sure everyone in your house is getting regular doctor’s visits. Make sure everyone stays up to date on their immunizations, so that way you know that your kids will be safe from the worst of what they could catch at school.
Another good way to prevent the spread of common illnesses is to encourage your kids to wash their hands regularly, especially before touching their faces. The most common way for people to catch bugs like the cold is to touch a contaminated surface and then touch their face, rubbing their eyes or nose.
Apart from that, you can teach your kids about germ theory, load them up with hand sanitizer and encourage them to avoid any classmates who have a persistent cough. From there, you can just hope they follow your advice, and prepare to see them develop yet another case of the sniffles during the school year.