STATEPOINT –Your children’s visits to the doctor should be about more than just treating sniffles and scrapes. There are plenty of life events about which you can ask your child’s pediatrician.
“Annual check-ups are a great time to ask the pediatrician about different issues and concerns. You and your child shouldn’t be shy,” says Dr. Thomas K. McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
To help prepare, the AAP is offering these tips for parents:
• Immunizations: Whether you’re the parent of a young child, a teen or a young adult heading to college, ask your pediatrician what immunizations your child is due to receive.
Vaccines save lives and keep children and adults healthy.
• Nutrition: Talk with your child’s pediatrician and school about healthful food choices. You can ask the school to stock the cafeteria and vending machines with nutritious food, such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100-percent fruit juice. If you don’t like the options the school offers, pack lunch and snacks at home.
Limit soda consumption. Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60 percent.
• Exercise: Make sure your kids are getting plenty of exercise. Turn off the television and make time for sports teams, gymnastics classes and bike rides. Aim for at least an hour a day.
• Emotional Checkup: If your child’s mood, behavior or social interactions are concerning you, your pediatrician can help you talk through problems and find resources to help.
• Travel Safety: Make sure your child has the necessary gear for getting to school and activities. Whether your child is biking or walking, teach him or her about traffic safety. For bikers, ensure helmets fit properly. Those who take the bus to school should be instructed to stay seated and listen to the bus driver. If the bus is equipped with seat belts, children should wear them.
• Sleep: Children and adolescents need plenty of sleep to be alert. A regular bedtime can help your child get on a healthy sleep schedule.
• Bullies: A bully can pose a true threat to a child’s physical and mental well-being. Your pediatrician is well equipped to answer questions about mental health, too. Teach kids how to respond confidently to bullies and encourage them to tell an adult when there’s a problem. Remember, bullying can occur online too. So keep tabs of your children’s social media use.
If you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your children’s health, your pediatrician can be a great resource. Make the most of your visit to the pediatrician by speaking with your child beforehand and making a list of issues to discuss. More children’s health tips can be found at HealthyChildren.org With a focus on safety and health, you can help make childhood an enjoyable time for your kids.