As a parent, there is nothing worse than seeing your child go through an illness. We feel helpless and all we want to do is help them to feel better!
The problem is, our glorious children learn to share too well early on in life and then share their little germs back and forth with abandon.
The good news is, although the Kindergarten years are tough with illness, all of these germs that they catch are actually helping them to build up their immune system.
And if you’re child has been to both 3 year old Kinder and 4 year old Kinder and/or child care settings as well, they will be even better off!
A doctor once told me my son’s job as a 1-5 year old was to build a “repertoire of immunity.” You see my youngest son Pete was born at 31 weeks. He came into this world fast and he hasn’t stopped. However he also had a lot of sickness as a toddler and Kinder child, with repeated pneumonia (being hospitalized at least 2-3 times a year) which was incredibly difficult to watch, as well as incredibly difficult to shuffle around work and other life commitments. However our GP and pediatrician constantly reminded me that all of this illness would, in fact, benefit Pete later on in life. He is now 7, and even though he gets the odd sniffle or gastro bus here and there, he hasn’t (*running around the office touching every hard surface in the room) had pneumonia since September 2015!
The body processes antigens that help build immunity more efficiently starting at the age of 2. So kids who are exposed to nasty stuff early on are unwittingly building up their defenses against the cold and flu and all the other junk that we all have to fend off — or suffer through — every year. We have seen it all before among the early childhood crew and there’s no gentle way to put it: they’re nose-pickers and flickers and finger-lickers who leave lovely dirty tissues lying around the place, there’s coughing with hands over little mouths then touching every single surface in the Kinder/home. Let’s face it, Under 6’s are not the most hygienic people in the world.
We can all work together to start to instill some routine cleanliness habits in the children. We can encourage them to use tissues (and find a bin immediately)! We can teach them to keep their hands to themselves! We can model washing our hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and congratulate the children when they do the same. And we can start to teach the children about coughing and sneezing into their elbow instead of their hands. Think of your own hygiene habits, and start making them a little more visible to the children, who will, in turn, start to follow these same practices.
The hard part as parents and as teachers in the early education field is that by the time the symptoms of an illness are showing, its already too late to stop the spread. In some instances, children (and adults for that matter) can harbor an illness for up to 10 days before they show symptoms. That’s 10 days of sharing those glorious germs with everyone they love! So if your child has a runny nose, but is happy and roaring around the house, they’re fine to come to Kinder-they’re already on their way to getting better. If you’re child has no runny nose or cough BUT has a fever, its best to keep them home-this is often the beginning of the illness and their little bodies need rest and hydration to defeat whatever bug it is. If you just feel that your child needs a day or two of rest-then that’s what your child needs. So basically, what I’m saying here is that we can’t prevent our children or ourselves from getting sick-and in a weird sort of way-that’s a good thing for our kids. If kids don’t get sick in Kinder or child care-they’re going to get sick in school instead. And although we all view Kinder as an incredibly important step in development and as a foundation for learning, it’s much easier to “catch up” in Kinder than it is at school.