Back to School: Missouri Ozarks Community Health providers offer tips for parents

Students across the Ozarks are back in the classroom this month.  And while many students may be excited about the new school year, others may be dealing with some anxiety.  Children with anxiety may appear withdrawn or isolated.  “Be supportive of them and their feelings.  Acknowledge that their feelings are real, and it’s okay to be a little bit anxious,” said Taylour Emery, a family nurse practitioner at Missouri Ozarks Community Health’s Gainesville clinic.

Mina Higgins, a family nurse practitioner at the Gainesville clinic, said anxiety is just one of many health issues children may face as they go back to school.  Cold and flu season are also just around the corner.  “If your child is ill, keep them home, clean their environment.  Particularly throw away their toothbrush after any illness,” said Higgins. “And don’t immediately request an antibiotic when your child is sick.  Antibiotics only treat illnesses caused by bacteria, and the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses.”

Parents should also make sure children start every day with a healthy breakfast, which can help boost their metabolism and energy.  A good sleep schedule can also help children remain alert and ready to learn.  But Higgins said it’s also important that children receive at least one hour of exercise a day, which can be difficult if their schedule doesn’t allow much time away from their desk.  “Get the family involved.  Do something physically active as a family.  10-minute activity breaks can quickly add up to the 60 minutes of daily activity,” said Higgins.

Both Higgins and Emery said there are several other steps parents can take to keep their children healthy this school year, including:

  • Avoiding noisy games or electronic devices before bed
  • Staying hydrated and avoiding sugary drinks
  • Washing hands regularly
  • Avoiding tobacco products or exposure to tobacco products
  • Staying up to date on recommended vaccinations

The Gainesville clinic is open to patients Monday-Friday, from 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Medical, dental and behavioral health services are provided.  Missouri Ozarks Community Health is a federally qualified health center established in 1996.  It has seven clinics, located in Douglas, Ozark, Texas and Wright Counties.

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