Back to school health advice for parents |  News, sports, jobs

Back to school health advice for parents | News, sports, jobs

Stephen Barrows, M.D.

The school returned in session across the north-central region of Pennsylvania. While there is a lot of excitement to go around for both kids and parents, it can be a difficult transition for your family. To help with this period of change, it is important to prioritize the health of your children as well as your own.

Psychological health

Going back to school can affect your child’s mental health. Anxiety is common and can be triggered by new social situations and detachment from what they are comfortable with. Children can also face the pressure of getting good grades and performing well in their extra-curricular activities.

It’s never too late to create a routine to help get through the school year. An hour before bed, put electronic devices away and encourage reading as an alternative. Next, make sure your kids get at least eight hours of sleep. The less time your child sleeps, the more likely he is to show signs of depression, anxiety, or impulsive behavior.

Always check in with your children and ask for extra help if needed.

physical health

Back to school checks are a great way to ensure that your child’s growth and development is on track. These appointments also provide an opportunity for you to have an open dialogue with your doctor to review any physical or dietary habits, family history, or concerns, or to check if any vaccinations are needed.

Routine dental and eye exams are also essential for your child’s overall health. Oral and vision health can affect your child at school more than you think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with poor oral health receive lower grades and miss school more often. Low vision can cause children to have eyestrain, headaches, and double vision just by reading the blackboard or doing homework. Making time for dental and eye exams can put an end to these problems early.

While there may be less free time in your child’s day, it is still important that they get plenty of physical activity and time to play. Being active will not only help them burn off their pent-up energy from the day, but it also helps keep them in good physical shape. Playtime is important because it helps your child’s brain develop and stimulates creativity, relationship skills, and many other social and emotional habits.


You are the best role model when it comes to your child’s health. By being physically active and eating a nutrient-rich diet, you contribute to the foundation of your children’s knowledge and development of a healthy lifestyle, as well as your overall wellness.

If you’re feeling mentally overwhelmed about changing your lifestyle as a parent from back to school, it’s important to remember that the transition from back to school is just a phase, and that over time, the routines you put in place for your family will begin to show benefits. Try to connect with other parents in your child’s class that you can communicate with about the school program for your children, so a strong relationship can be built.

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Stephen Burrows, MD, with UPMC Primary Care sees patients at 45 Park Dr. , Montgomery. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Barrows, call 570-515-0952. For more information, visit

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