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Back To School

Diverse_Group_KidsBy Dr. Lawrence Rosen
Once again autumn approaches and families are gearing up for that exciting yet challenging yearly rite-of-passage: “Back to School.”
 
It is crucial for families to pay attention to several lifestyle factors to ensure a smooth transition for their children.
 
1.    Nutrition: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Too often kids ignore this key to a good start to the day.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, especially for those late-risers, but should include protein for optimal energy throughout the morning hours.  School lunches and snacks should be as healthy as possible, and also include some protein, along with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, water, and healthy whole grains if desired.  Encourage your child’s school to provide healthy options and avoid empty calories and unhealthy additives in most packaged snacks and beverages.  Top-of-the-list things to avoid include trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats) and caffeine.
 
2.    Exercise/Activity: Physical education in schools has decreased in quality and quantity in recent years.  Encourage your school to think of creative ways to engage children in physical activities.  Children should be involved in vigorous activities at least daily, if not several times a day.  That’s part of being a kid!  Research has shown that physical fitness decreases the likelihood of obesity and improves attention in the classroom.  Organized sports and hobbies are available everywhere, and may be the greatest source of physical activity for some children; still, we must be careful to allow time for unstructured, free play as well. 
     
3.    Rest: Just as important as activity is a time to rest and de-stress.  Our children today are so overscheduled – some towns even have had to set aside one day a year for families to stay home after school and relax.  A more useful technique is to incorporate some regular, routine way for children to de-stress during each and every day.  It doesn’t have to be another scheduled activity, though yoga classes are popular, but simply a quick and easy method for relaxation.  I teach many of my patients an easy, five-minute breathing exercise they can practice at home.  Turn off the TV, unplug the video games, and enjoy some quiet time; that’s my prescription for a well-balanced start to the school year.
 
rosen_thumbAbout Dr. Lawrence Rosen
 
Dr. Lawrence Rosen is a board-certified general pediatrician committed to family-centered, holistic child health care. He practices in northern New Jersey and consults at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Westchester County, NY.  An Assistant Professor in the New York Medical College Department of Pediatrics, he directs the MFCH Integrative Pediatrics Service. Dr. Rosen is a founding member (with Dr. Kathi Kemper) of the AAP's provisional Section on Complementary, Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is a frequent speaker at both professional and consumer functions, discussing topics such as holistic care of the newborn and the integrative management of autism.
 
Dr. Rosen currently serves as Director of the Division of Pediatrics at Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood, N.J. He is a graduate of New York Medical College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Rosen completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Most importantly, he is blessed by the presence of his beautiful and charming wife, Laura, and his inspiring children, Matthew and Talia.
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