Dignity Health Merced | helloHealthy | Summer 2019

4 DignityHealth.org/Merced | Summer 2019 Parents: Get ready for It will be here before you know it: the first day of a new school year. As summer begins to wind down and you start to stock up on school supplies, keep these tips in mind for helping your child have a healthy and happy time at school. Buy the right backpack. This may be the most important of all school supplies. A backpack that is too heavy or isn’t used correctly can injure muscles and joints. Be sure your child’s backpack has the following features: ●  ● Two wide, padded shoulder straps. Narrow straps can dig in and be painful. And backpacks with just one strap may look cool, but they won’t distribute weight evenly. ●  ● A padded back for comfort and protection from sharp objects inside the pack. ●  ● A waist strap for added weight distribution. For some students with a lot to carry, a rolling backpack may be a good choice. Pick a distraction-free homework spot. Depending on when your child tackles homework, that spot could be the kitchen table or a desk in their bedroom. Agreeing to a time and place for homework can eliminate future conflicts, but only if you let your child have some say in the decision. Some younger children might prefer that you sit with them while they do their homework. That’s fine, but don’t do their work for them. You can sit nearby, reading a book or magazine and keeping them company. Review your child’s street smarts. Whether your child is taking the bus, walking, or biking to school, there are safety rules to follow. You may want to take your child on a practice run in advance. Point out any possible hazards and how to handle them. If your child’s biking to school, make sure they have a proper helmet—and make them promise to always wear it. It’s best for students to cross a street where a crossing guard is on duty. But if that’s not possible, teach your child how to safely navigate a street. Tell your child to always make eye contact with a driver when crossing in front of a stopped car and to be especially careful around cars that are backing up or turning. If your child is taking the bus, find a nearby, easily visible pick-up-and-drop-off spot. The more children who also wait there, the better. And make sure your child knows how to behave correctly on the bus. Be alert for social stressors. Does your child ever ask to bring friends home from school—or if they can go to a friend’s house? If not, you might want to find out why. Your child might be having trouble making friends, and that can add to the stress of school. If your child seems to spend a lot of time alone, talk to them. Ask if all this alone time is making them unhappy. You also might want to talk to your child’s teachers. Ask them how your child gets along with others. You could see if your child would like to invite some friends to a structured activity on the weekend. Take the group to a ballgame or the zoo—something where the focus won’t be on your child. Talk to your child’s doctor if you’re worried about your child’s social skills. You may need a referral to a therapist for some help.