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Why you should mind your kids' health during this long holiday


Many public schools have already closed for what is perceived as a long holiday break. Parents and guardians often have concerns about keeping their kids preoccupied for long periods away from school. And more so in the current economic downturn.

What is required is the appreciation that kids deserve a break from academics, and to use the time to explore other equally important aspects of their ongoing development.  If you are creative enough, you will find ample stuff for your kids to get into.

Whatever your kids will be up to, remember to mind their health as well. They need to start being conscious of their own health from a very early age. Sit with them and review their prevailing health, and use that opportunity to create some health goals that they can aim for.

They can then take charge of most of the subsequent actions, with the relevant guidance from you as they get along. You must encourage your kids to eat healthily. There is an inevitable party atmosphere during long holidays. Fast foods will always be tempting, but this must be moderated. Fast foods are both tasty and convenient. But they are linked with metabolic diseases that are all too easily avoidable.

Let the kids indulge every so often, but make sure they have intervals of really fresh and healthy alternatives. This means wholemeal foods, lots of veges, grains and fruits, and lean animal proteins. All washed down with water rather than carbonated sugary drinks. Let them understand pretty early that healthy diets are directly linked to healthier lifespans. Kids must spend as much time outdoors as possible. The more active they are, the better their musculoskeletal, respiratory and cardiac function.

Physical activity also maintains optimal metabolism, reducing the explosive rates of adolescent obesity and attendant health risks. Your backyard will do, or a nearby park or public place.

It is all too easy for kids to just idle about indoors, interacting with digital gadgets and filling themselves up with junk. Allow them screen moments, but encourage them to get out for the sake of their long-term health.

Older kids can get into all sorts of mischief when on long holidays. Think of drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex. If you have not already done it, the long holidays give you ample opportunities to veer your kids away from such behaviour.

They’ll certainly experiment, it’s all part of growing up. But for heaven’s sake, you must guide them. Tell them about condoms for safer sex. If they must drink, encourage them to accept adult supervision.

You must get them away from the temptation to try drugs. Finally, check if any of your kids are due for any medical reviews, or catch-up vaccines. If anything is due, get it sorted well before their next academic term comes up.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.

[email protected]

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