Developing healthy life habits early in childhood can be the most effective way to set your child up for future success. Being aware of the risks your child may face at school is just as important. Research shows that being happier at school leads to higher achievements.

Bullying at school, whether physical or mental, is detrimental to your child’s health and success. Be aware of the signs such as anxiety, depression or a drop in grades. Bullying can happen at school or on social media. Fortunately there is a lot of good information on this vast topic. Search for tips on identifying, dealing with, and speaking to your child about bullying.

Lice is another concern, and one schools are well aware of. Reduce the chance your child becomes infested with this highly transmittable mite. Teach your child to never share a hat, brush or comb. If you see your child itching, look through the hair for small white mites, and small dark egg sacks attached close to the base of the hair follicle. Start treatment immediately with your physician if needed.

Have your child’s vision checked once a year. It is not uncommon for children to not be aware they have poor vision. They may not see things clearly on the page or at a distance and think that is normal. Headaches and squinting are signs your child may have an issue. Even with good vision, it is important to start a life-long habit of keeping anything you’re looking at, at least two feet away from the face.

Adequate sleep helps brain and body development. Children require 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This is just as important as good nutrition and exercise! Daily exercise helps burn off excess calories and energy. Don’t let your child form the habit of sleeping with the TV on. Electronic devices and TV should be turned off at least one hour before bed. Doing something relaxing like reading or puzzles before bed, can help your child fall asleep faster.

Surveys have found 1 in 4 children do not drink water daily, and 50% of children are considered “dehydrated.” Staying hydrated is essential for all cellular functions, and also helps “flush” the body of metabolic waste.

Good nutrition leads to better overall health, both mentally and physically. Developing healthy eating habits now, will help develop a taste for healthy foods, and reduce the chance of continued weight gain. One in five children fall into the category of “obese.” It has been found that 40% of daily calories are consumed in the form of “empty calories,” which are added sugars and fats. If you have a picky eater, here are some tips to help.

Avoid using food as a reward. Be a role model for your child and eat healthy foods with them. Constantly introduce new foods to help develop their taste for something different. Serve fruits and vegetables first, while they’re hungry, followed by the foods you know they’ll eat. Desserts can be fun and yummy, but are usually unhealthy. Try to make dessert a weekend or special occasion food, and break the habit of including it with every meal. If you pack lunch for your child, include one serving of protein, fruit, dairy, starch and a vegetable.

Healthy life habits are learned and passed along. It’s never too late to start.

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