At this chaotic time of year, it’s easy to overlook health and safety best practices at home. But this is precisely the time when we need to be thinking about protecting our kids. Ergonomics, wearing the right personal protective equipment and managing stress apply to children, too. Follow these tips to get your kids ready for the school year and help them survive the back-to-school scramble.
Check the Backpack
Overloaded backpacks contribute to nearly half of back pain reported by children. Yet many parents don’t check the weight of their child’s backpack. Many experts recommend that backpacks should not weigh more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight. And the backpack’s fit is equally important. To reduce a child’s risk of back injury:
Choose a backpack appropriate to the size of your kids so they won’t be tempted to pack more than they can safely carry
Choose a backpack that has wide, padded, adjustable straps
Adjust the backpack so that it rests no more than two inches below the waist
Pack the heaviest items first
Teach your kids to face the backpack when lifting it and to bend their knees if the backpack’s heavy.
Cover the Noggin
Children riding bicycles or scooters to and from school should always wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear. When selecting a helmet for your child, choose one that:
Fits. Don’t buy a helmet that is too large thinking your child will ‘grow into’ it
Has a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened
Doesn’t obstruct your child’s vision.
Children can experience many unexpected stresses and challenges in a new school year, but parents may not even be aware of what their child is going through. If possible, try to meet or contact your child’s counselor at least three times during the school year to:
Discuss the child’s challenges and concerns
Learn about the child’s school and social connections
Work together to identify resources and find solutions to any problems.