Back to School Rules for Your Kids

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Information & Advice

Health and Beauty Magazine

Back to School Rules for Your Kids

Health & Beauty Magazine

Lucie Tobin

Lucie Tobin

Health & Beauty Magazine Online Editor

Published 10th September 2008

Want to send them back to school full of energy and feeling positive? Here's some advice to help you help them eat healthily and feel great on their first day

Give them a good lunch

Having a tasty, nutritionally-balanced lunch helps keep kids full of energy throughout the day.

If you want to give them a healthy lunch, but you're not sure where to start, ‘check out the weekly menu ideas for 5 to 8-year-olds and 9 to 12-year-olds, as recommended by the Food Standards Agency [],’ says Vicky Pennington, dietician and Boots in-house nutritionist.

‘Generally, a healthy lunchbox should contain the following foods:

  • at least one fruit, fresh, dried or 100% juice
  • one vegetable, for example carrot sticks
  • one milk or dairy product, such as cheese or yoghurt
  • one meat, chicken, fish or protein alternative
  • one starchy food like couscous, oatcakes, or two slices of bread for a sandwich
  • one drink, unsweetened fruit juice or water (use water if you've already included fruit juice)'


Stay positive at the school gate

‘Starting school is a big adventure,’ says clinical psychologist Claire Halsey. Try these tips if your child feels:

  • Anxious: ‘A new teacher, classroom or school can naturally cause anxiety. Keep your child calm by making the school environment as familiar as possible. Visit the school beforehand and check out the website with your child to find out as much as you can about rules and staff.’
  • Stressed: ‘Reduce first-day stress for both of you by being well prepared. Have the uniform laid out ready to wear, school bag and PE kit labelled and packed. Remember to set your alarm early, as even the most organised parents and children will need extra time to get ready on the first day.’
  • Teary: ‘Tears at the school gates can be soothed with a reassuring hug and confident farewell. This tells your child that you care, but you’re certain they’ll be fine. Hovering or being tearful yourself will prolong the distress for both of you.’


Encourage them to eat 'functional foods'

The right food can help maintain healthy brain function.

‘If children eat too much of the wrong kind of carbohydrates and refined starchy foods, their blood and brain sugar levels may start roller-coasting and their concentration can wander,’ says Patrick Holford, author of Optimum Nutrition for Your Child. He recommends these low-GL (glycaemic load) options:

  • Better breakfasts. A medium-sized (30g) bowl of porridge oats, sweetened with a portion of fresh fruit, or eggs served with wholegrain toast.
  • Smart snacks. Fruit, nuts, seeds, oat cakes or, in moderation, oat biscuits.
  • Healthy drinks. Avoid sugary drinks, choosing water and half-and-half diluted juices instead.

‘Supplementation can be a reliable way to ensure your child gets the appropriate levels of all the vitamins and minerals they need to be optimally nourished,’ says Patrick.

‘Many firms formulate multivitamin and mineral supplements with all the necessary nutrients for children.’ As B vitamins can mildly stimulate by releasing energy from food, give them at breakfast, not at night.

Get the school nurse on board

‘Let your school nurse know about any health conditions your child has so they can provide support,’ says Christine Brown, school nurse consultant.

Here are three to mention…

  • Asthma: ‘Children with an inhaler should always carry it on them.’
  • Hayfever: ‘Teachers need to know when the child is suffering, as it may affect concentration.’
  • Food allergies: ‘Tell the nurse what your child is allergic to. Agree a course of action should the child go into anaphylactic shock.’


Experts answer your commonly-asked questions

What’s the best way to tackle head lice?
Christine Brown: ‘Options to consider include “bug busting” where you apply conditioner, then use a fine-toothed comb to “capture” the lice. But the most successful treatments are over-the-counter medicines or medical devices. Some contain an insecticide that targets the lice’s central nervous systems. But some lice are resistant to insecticides so you may prefer formulations with dimeticone. Apply according to the instructions on the packaging. For more information, visit’

What will get rid of stubborn verrucas?
Angela Chalmers, Boots pharmacist: ‘Verrucas are viruses that burrow into the skin, causing a wart. A treatment containing salicylic acid gel can be effective but you must apply it following the pack instructions. Some products advise you to use them for a specified time, and then remove the dead layers of skin with an emery board before continuing treatment. Do this regularly as it can take 3-6 months to be fully rid of a verruca, depending on how many and how deep they are.

‘Another option is to use a freezing product, which can cause the verruca to drop off after 10 days. If this doesn’t work, see your doctor who may run a freezing clinic at the surgery.’

My child is prone to ear infections – what can I do to help stop them recurring?
Angela Chalmers: ‘Some kids are simply more prone to them. As most ear infections are viral, antibiotics may not help. Instead, focus on keeping your child’s immune system in tip-top condition, as kids often get ear infections if they are a bit run-down or have just had a cold.

'A healthy, balanced diet and a daily multivitamin will support the immune system. If your child gets infections after he’s been swimming, use earplugs to help prevent water getting into the inner ear.’

What should I do to treat my nine-year-old’s fever?
Angela Chalmers: ‘In children the most common cause of fever is a viral or bacterial infection. As well as having an abnormally high temperature, children with a fever can feel clammy, sweaty, irritable, tired and flushed. They may also have a headache or aches and pains and, if the fever rises rapidly, may experience chills and shivering.

‘Peel off any layers of clothing – leave a single layer of cotton clothing. Monitor your child’s body temperature, as often the forehead feels hot but the body may be cold. If so, use a light blanket and give sips of water to keep him hydrated.

‘Keep the room well ventilated, and remove any extra pillows and teddies that could make the child feel stuffy. Cooling forehead pads can also help.

‘For a fever that does not respond to child’s ibuprofen or paracetamol, or lasts over three days, visit your doctor.’

Written by Faye Rowe

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