(BPT) – It’s here again — that time of year when everyone seems to unwittingly pass colds and other illnesses around. As every parent knows, kids can bring germs home from school and share them with the entire family, spreading illness at warp speed. In fact, 60 million school days are missed every year by children nationwide due to preventable illnesses like cold and flu.
What can you do to fight the spread of illness and help keep your kids — and you — healthier during cold and flu season this year? It’s all about practicing healthy habits and making sure you have the right tools. Lysol’s Here for Healthy Schools campaign is working with schools, educators and parents to help reinforce healthy practices and curb the spread of illnesses in the classroom.
As part of the program, Here for Healthy Schools spokesperson, actress and parent Sarah Michelle Gellar shared five tips for keeping your kids healthy during cold and flu season, and beyond:
1. Model healthy habits
“Your children pay closer attention to smaller things than you’d expect,” says Gellar. She advises modeling the habits you want your children to follow. Demonstrate how you use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. And be sure that they see you washing your hands often, especially before eating a meal. Actions do speak louder than words, so practicing what you preach can go a long way to instilling these healthy habits in your kids.
2. Reinforce healthy habits with caregivers
Gellar explains how important it is that caregivers and others who spend time with her children follow the same healthy habits she wants to teach her children.
“I truly rely on my village to help me,” says Gellar. “This means my children interact with many different people within their day-to-day activities, and inevitably come in contact with even more germs.”
She makes sure everyone who spends time with her children understands the vital role these healthy habits play in helping to avoid preventable illnesses.
3. Involve kids in preparing healthy meals
“Food is so important in our family,” says Gellar. “Most of our fondest memories take place in the kitchen.” By making her children part of the process of planning, preparing and serving meals, she stresses, they are constantly learning not only how to eat healthy, balanced meals, but also how to create one for themselves.
4. Get a flu shot
Gellar insists that everyone in her household get a flu shot each year, at the beginning of flu season, to help her family stay flu-free throughout the year. This also helps prevent spreading the flu to anyone else who might be vulnerable.
5. Keep kids home when they’re sick
“While we want to limit the number of days out of school for children to ensure they’re thriving and growing,” Gellar explains, “it’s important as parents to understand when to keep them home.” Because colds, flu and other illnesses are easily spread, sending children to school when they’re clearly under the weather will likely lead to more children in the classroom getting sick and missing school.
Following these healthy habits will help keep everyone’s sick days to a minimum this year, so children can learn, grow and thrive at school.