General health needs of a child are important considerations for parents
as they can make all the difference to a happy healthy year. For children
who are about to start school for the first time, or children who have
not had a physical check-up for over two years, now is the time to have
a full physical evaluation of their ongoing development. Growth (height
/ weight) checks are important to ensure that children meet normal and
optimal growth rates. Ruling out musculo-skeletal health concerns such
as scoliosis and other complications which can arise as a child is developing
are also vital throughout this growing process.
Besides growth checks there are other areas that need to be monitored:
At the age of three, a routine vision test is recommended. Around the
ages of six and twelve, children will require certain vaccinations although
this tends to vary from schedule to schedule and from country to country.
Check with your pediatrician. A dental check-up needs to be done yearly:
ideally, a child's first visit should be as early as one year old and
not later than two and a half years, when all the milk teeth have grown.
Children are somewhat oblivious to how hot it is during times of play
and learning and can forget to drink enough. Headaches or tiredness
on hot days may be an indication of slight dehydration. Parents need
to explain to their children about the importance of drinking enough
and this should be reinforced time and again. What to drink? This could
be almost anything but, as we all know, nothing beats water (mineral
not distilled). Fruit eating should also be encouraged especially water
melon which is full of water but also holds some natural sugar, minerals
The School Bag
During school time, the school bag becomes an integral part of a child's
life. With all the clutter children tend to collect, this bag can become
way too heavy and can unwittingly contribute to future health problems.
Bags should not be heavier than 1/10th of a child's weight , it should
be comfortable and straps should be appropriate lengths for the height
of the child so it is carried correctly and safely.
We can consider all of the above pointers as preventative medicine measures
which means we intervene a little but gain much in the long term towards
our children's health, happiness and future development.
The New Kid in School
Children who are new in China, new in Beijing or in a new school, find
this initial adjustment a difficult time and one which can cause a great
deal of stress. Coming to a new environment, coping with new friends,
new teachers and new languages can be quite overwhelming, causing different
negative emotions and difficulties in adjusting. Children's reactions
may be seen as unwillingness to go to school, anger, tears, bad moods,
bed wetting or possibly in a wide range of psychosomatic symptoms such
as abdominal pain (with or without diarrhea), headache, dizziness, chest
pain, arm and leg pain. Usually with family and teachers support, the
situation improves and the symptoms gradually disappear. Should the
child continue to complain, or symptoms worsen, the child should be
seen by a pediatrician to rule out any organic problems. If the problem
is psychological in nature, the physician can help to refer to a psychologist
for evaluation and treatment at least for a short period of time so
as to stabilize the problem.
Finally you are ready to send you child to school reassured that they
are well equipped to enjoy a happy, healthy new school year.
This article was contributed by Dr. Noa Frenkel, Pediatric Specialist
at Beijing United Family Hospital.