Health Tips - Back-To-School Edition


Buying shoes for back to school? Make sure it’s a right fit! “A wrong fit can lead to back problems, leg problems and foot pain,” said Dr. Janet Squires, pediatrician at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. “Take the time to ensure your child’s shoes fit—your child will be glad you did.”

Squires recommends that parents have their child’s feet measured. “Measure from the heel to the longest toe,” she said. “Keep in mind that most people have one foot that’s larger than the other, so use the size of the larger foot to determine shoe size.” Next, feel the front of the shoe—is there at least half an inch of space? “Our feet swell as we do our normal day-to-day activities, so you want to make sure there’s enough room to accommodate that,” she said.

Also check the wiggle factor. “If your child can’t wiggle their toes, then don’t buy the shoes.” Finally, if the shoe isn’t comfortable at the store, it probably won’t be comfortable later. “A shoe may stretch out, but your child will suffer in the meantime. Why put him through that when a good fit may be available in the next size?” Squires said.


Just because they’re old enough to surf doesn’t mean they’re old enough to surf alone. Surf the Web, that is. “Parents need to take an active role in monitoring their children’s Internet habits,” said Dr. Peter L. Stavinoha, neuropsychologist at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. “Having filtering software is not enough—smart kids will figure out a way to get around it.”

Stavinoha offers simple guidelines for Internet use. He recommends that parents don’t install home Internet access until the child needs it. The Internet becomes useful for schoolwork around the third or fourth grade. “When they do start, place the computer in a public room and do not allow your child uninterrupted computer time,” said Stavinoha. “Even if your child is older, pop in unexpectedly throughout their computer usage and offer to assist them with projects and research.”

Finally, Stavinoha recommends parents monitor the amount of time a child spends on the Internet. Just like television, usage should be limited to allow for family and recreational activities. “There are a lot of potential dangers out there. Children should be taught how to decide who to chat with, what kind of information they’re allowed to give out, and to always let Mom and Dad know if conversations or Web sites are uncomfortable,” he said.


Back-to-school means dropping kids off at activities. “It’s tempting to drop children off at school events, sports activities or even the library for research,” said Deb Brown, trauma manager at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. “Unfortunately, it’s difficult to ensure that your child will be safe unless you arrange supervision. Predators frequent places where they know parents will leave their children. This includes places like the library, events such as league games or even some school-sponsored activities.”

Brown recommends that parents try to make mutually beneficial arrangements with other parents. “If your child has a research project, take turns with a classmate’s parent to supervise the children at the library. Don’t count on staff to keep an eye out for your kids—they’re not paid to be babysitters.” Brown also advises participating in your child’s events. “If you don’t have time, arrange for another parent to supervise your child and make sure they’re accounted for throughout the activities. Watchful eyes may not prevent a determined predator, but the sooner a child is reported missing, the better the chances of finding them.”