Family Medicine

Safety Important Component of Returning to School

The notebooks are fresh, pencils waiting to be sharpened. Students are heading back to school, but amid the rush to purchase and prepare school supplies, parents may overlook an important component of starting a new school year: health and wellness.

As parents prepare to have children go back to school or start school for the first time, it s important to be sure your child has seen his or her doctor within the past year, says family medicine physician Kristin Miller, M.D. Yearly well child visits address things like vaccine status, daily eating habits, school and study habits, discipline, safety and other issues.

Dr. Miller says it is important to make medical exams a priority because physicians can address many types of health issues, including ways to keep children safe.

Safety is important at every age, Dr. Miller says. This is something that your physician will go into detail on during a routine visit. Things that are typically discussed include making sure young children know whom they can and cannot talk to or even take rides from; and making sure young children have their parents phone number memorized is very helpful.

Conversations with older children 11 to 13 should include how to avoid drugs and alcohol, and the dangers of risky sexual behavior. In general, parents need to have these conversations with their children before these events occur, Dr. Miller says. Parents also need to discuss the dangers of technology and establish boundaries. Our current recommendation to families is to only allow 2 hours or fewer per day of screen time with TV, video games, texting, etc., Dr. Miller says. Parents should also educate their children on safety, regarding walking or riding bikes to school, and that listening to headphones or looking at a screen could cause preventable accidents, due to lack of concentration.

Most of all, Dr. Miller suggests families take time to unplug from the work and school day and tune into family conversation and together time. Most families have working moms and working dads which can make it difficult for parents to be as involved as they need to be, she says. One suggestion would be to try to have dinner together as a family, without TV, as often as possible and discuss what s going on with everyone. You ll be surprised how much you can learn about your kids over a meal.

While physicians are eager to help families who are faced with a medical condition, Dr. Miller says the ultimate goal is to keep families safe so they do not require emergency medical attention. Paying attention to scheduled exams helps families stay healthy the rest of the year. Don t forget to make a yearly well visit appointment with your family physician, Dr. Miller says.

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Kristin Miller, M.D.
Family Medicine
2780 Cleveland Avenue
Suite 709
Fort Myers, FL 33901



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