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“Put on a jacket or you’ll catch a cold!” Were you told this as a kid? Do you find yourself repeating it to your own children? While this is an old wives’ tale (being cold doesn’t actually cause colds), what your kids do can get them sick. Here are a few bad habits that will likely cause a cold:
Getting your kids to wash their hands is one of the best ways to prevent colds. This means before and after eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the bathroom. However, a quick sprinkle of water won’t do the trick. They’ve got to do it right — scrub with soap for 20 to 30 seconds (have them sing Happy Birthday twice) before rinsing and drying. If a sink isn’t available, then alcohol-based hand sanitizer works just as well, if not better.
Cold viruses can live for hours on your kids’ hands (unless they wash them well) and even longer on surfaces like toys and doorknobs. However, the viruses can’t get in through unbroken skin. Instead, they need an opening, such as when little fingers start exploring the inside of a nose or mouth. Once inside, the viruses start multiplying, and, voila, you’re up all night with a coughing and congested kid.
Getting your kids outside and away from the TV, computer and video games can help them stay well. The dry inside air makes their bodies better places for viruses and bacteria to grow. When they’re outdoors, the fresh air helps moisture levels in their lungs go back to normal. Plus, being active helps keep them fit and better able to fight a cold. Have you been stuck in the office all day? Getting outside with your kids can help you too!
Even if little Johnny down the street is perfectly behaved, your son shouldn’t spend time with him while he’s sick. Yes, it’s true — kids can still want to hang out together despite the coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing. New victims are just what the viruses want. To keep your kids well, it’d be better if they limit contact with sick friends to the phone or online until the cold passes.
Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other kids’ favorites are okay in moderation, but too much can get them sick — and not just an upset stomach. These foods don’t contain the nutrition your children need to fight a cold. Make sure your kids are eating right, including getting enough vegetables, so their immune systems stay strong.
Colds are among the most common illnesses in the United States, so your children may still get one even if they get a gold star for avoiding all these bad habits.
If they do catch a cold, here are some tips to help them feel better until it passes.