Supervise your children’s health during summer break
It is the summer vacation and our children are home from school. It is not possible for many parents to be with their children during the entire summer break. Some parents may take vacation during this period, but there is just so much time that one is allowed. This means that parents often have to find things to engage their children.
The most common activities are summer camps and Vacation Bible Schools. These activities are also time limiting and may be a couple of weeks. There is a period when children must be left at home, or are sent off to friends and relatives to spend the rest of their summer.
Whilst the safety of children is first and foremost important to all parents, ensuring that their health is protected is another important issue. Parents are encouraged to make sure that during this period there is adequate consideration of their children’s health.
During this time, children will be with family and friends and may at times be unsupervised. This is a moment of freedom for some children, especially those who are teenagers. They may seize the opportunity to experiment on drugs, alcohol or sex. Ensure that your children always have a responsible adult to supervise them, and speak to them ahead of sending them off about the risk of engaging in these activities and yielding to peer pressure.
During the summer months they spend a considerable amount of time outdoors. They may take part in sports and other activities. In the Caribbean, the sun is very hot during these months. Ensure that they are well hydrated. Encourage them to always walk with water and to drink regularly. Also pay attention to the activities that they will be engaging in and where they will be going to ensure that the risk of injury is minimal.
Children are not in their normal school environment and parents use this summer break as a break for themselves by not having to prepare snacks and food. They may consume more unhealthy and processed food during these two months. Ensure that they are given healthy food choices and encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Do not pack them up with sugary beverages and processed food.
Some children may not have the opportunity to participate in sports and outdoor events and may be confined to their homes. They will spend a considerable amount of their time watching television, playing video games or using their tablets. This can be unhealthy also. They should be encouraged to be active. Spending a considerable amount of time on these devices may not be the best thing for their eyes, ears and neck.
Parents are encouraged to have their children be active and healthy during this time so that they not only have an enjoyable summer experience, but that they are prepared, both physically and mentally, to return to school at the beginning of the new term.
Dr Rosmond Adams, MD is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is a lecturer of medical ethics.
He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). He is also a member of the World Health Organization Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
(The views expressed here are not written on behalf of CARPHA nor the WHO). You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org