Tips for a healthy start to the new school year

- It's hard to believe, but summer is done, and the new school year is here. WebMD Senior Medical Editor and pediatrician Dr. Hansa Bhargava there are a couple of ways parents can make the back-to-class adjustment easier.

"First of all, talk it [school] up to your child. How exciting this is, that it's an adventure," Dr. Bhargava says.  "Talk the school bus up. And, the second thing you can do is try to get yourself organized. So, if your anxiety goes down, that will help the child's anxiety go down as well."

If you have time, Bhargava says, do a school "practice" run. Take advantage of your school's open house to walk the halls.

"Especially if they're younger kids, meet their teacher, maybe meet some classmates, that can help alleviate a lot of the anxiety," she says.

Sleep is another challenge. If you have a few days before the school year starts, push up bedtime by 15 to 30 minutes a night, and wake your child use 15 to 30 minutes earlier each day. If you are out of time, nudge kids into a sleep wind-down routine, quickly. Some bedtime rules?

"So, no screens before bedtime, or in their bedroom," says Dr. Bhargava.  Either read to them or letting them read. And just have the sound level go down as well, just quiet time that can actually help them get to sleep."

As the new school year starts, she says, resist the urge over schedule your student, and yourself.

"I call it keeping up the Joneses," Bhargava laughs.  "And, it's not about the stuff you have anymore. It's the things your kids are involved in. Because you hear so-about-so neighbor (whose child is) with the travel team and so-and-so neighbor with the amazing pianist.  Don't worry about that. You know your children best. And if you're feeling overwhelmed, chances are your kids are, too."

So, Dr. Bhargava says simplify. Cut back on all the extra activities. Focus, she says, on the basics that really matter.

"And that is family time, sleep, homework, and downtime," Bhargava says. "That is going to go way further that anything else will in the grand scheme of things."

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