How to manage your child’s fatigue during the school term

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While school is often packed with new, exciting activities and many opportunities for your child to grow and learn, the constant mental and physical stimulation can leave your child feeling fatigued after each day.

Is it chronic fatigue?

According to a recent Harvard Health report, it’s quite common for young children to feel tired after a busy morning at school. Fatigue can also set in if your child doesn’t sleep or eat well, feels stressed or anxious, or is experiencing overstimulation from new activities.

However, if your child complains of feeling tired all the time and her fatigue is preventing her from enjoying normal, daily activities, it’s important to see your doctor and have your child assessed, as she could be experiencing chronic fatigue – which is a more serious health condition.

Some possible causes of chronic fatigue are:

  • Side-effects from medications
  • Infections such as Epstein-Barr virus
  • Depression
  • Anaemia
  • Chronic health problems such as asthma
  • Heart problems

How to help your child cope with normal fatigue

Clinical nutritionist, wellness expert and speaker, Desi Horsman believes that a holistic approach to your child’s overall health and wellbeing is the key to managing fatigue in the long term.

Here are Desi’s suggestions:

Don’t overschedule your child in the week

Desi says, “Most children (regardless of their age) need some downtime in the afternoons after school, so avoid over-scheduling your child – especially in the first term. If your child is still napping, guard that nap like gold and let him rest after a busy day.

Quiet time is great for older kids. Enjoy quiet, relaxing activities at home such as reading, playing quiet games, spending time outdoors in nature and swimming in summer. Avoid too much screen-time as this can contribute to eye fatigue.”

ALSO SEE: The dangers of overstimulation

Focus on a healthy diet and small, regular meals

There’s no doubt that most little children prefer to snack on smaller meals throughout the day, rather than sitting down to 2 to 3 main meals.

  • Ensure your child eats a variety of healthy snacks that are low in sugar to prevent blood sugar dips and spikes.
  • Always stick to whole foods that are as close to their natural form. Highly processed foods like energy bars and drinks are actually energy draining in the long run.
  • Make sure that every meal includes a fresh food like carrot sticks, cucumbers, apple slices and so on.
  • Lunchboxes should have a variety of snacks like fruits, nuts (unless your child’s school is nut free), and fresh veggies that can be snacked on throughout the day for energy.
  • Nut butters are a great high energy food.
  • Sugary foods, including those that are considered healthy, like muffins, should only have a tiny place in your child’s diet and are best left as treats for appropriate times and not lunchboxes.

Don’t underestimate the true value of sleep

School-age children need between 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to reach their full potential during the day (and avoid falling asleep in the late afternoon). Sleep is the key to combating fatigue!

To help your child get more restful sleep, try these tips:
  • Ensure your child eats plenty of foods that are high in the amino acid, tryptophan, for dinner. These foods (such as chicken, eggs, milk, cheese and nuts) increase serotonin levels – which is exactly what’s needed for a good night’s sleep.
  • Chamomile tea is very calming and a great choice for a warm bedtime drink.
  • Rub your child’s feet with a little lavender oil to help induce a deeper sleep.
  • Herbal tinctures like passiflora or valerian may be valuable if your child is battling to fall asleep and stay asleep every night.
  • Avoid screen time and blue light before bed.
  • Ensure your child’s room is well ventilated and is the optimal temperature for sleep (around 18 to 20 degrees Celcius).

ALSO SEE: Innovative tinted specs help kids sleep better

Include more fruits and veggies in your child’s diet

Wellness expert and mom, Lisa Raleigh points out that a diet rich in essential phytonutrients from fruits and veggies is a must. Not only do these foods boost your child’s immune system and feed every cell and muscle in the body, they also help your child to do more in the day, and sleep better as a result.

However, it’s not always easy to encourage your child to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies. “We all know that kids aren’t huge fans of broccoli and all the other greens,” says Lisa. “This is why, as parents, we need to get creative with our children’s diets and try sneak in as much variety as possible.”

One of the best ways to do this is to use a tasty superfood powder such as Super Scoop. It is available in a variety of palatable flavours and contains 50 organic fruit and veggie extracts. These include mushroom extract, all the green and red veggies including broccoli and beetroot, as well as a host of essential superfoods such as spirulina, aloe and barley grass.

“I give my daughter Bella a healthy dessert, which is rich in essential fats and nutrients, most nights after dinner, because it keeps her fuller for longer and helps ensure she has a good night’s sleep. This is my secret weapon to combat fatigue, because if she sleeps and eats well, she has more energy the next day.”

Try Lisa’s decadent chocolate mousse recipe for kids:

With a handheld blender, simply mix the following ingredients together to make a delicious mousse your kids will love:

  • ½ avocado
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • ½ scoop Very Berry or Raw Cacao Super Scoop

Super Scoop is available at Dis-Chem pharmacies or on Lisa Raleigh’s Online Store.

Ensure your child gets plenty of exercise

Although you might think that exercise will contribute to your child’s fatigue, it will, in fact, do the opposite. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to all the major muscles, cells and organs in the body, while releasing feel-good endorphins which will help your child feel more energised.

Exercise also helps to build a stronger cardiovascular system, which will promote better breathing so that your child can accomplish tasks with ease. Your child doesn’t need to do formal exercise every day to reap the benefits of physical activity. Try kicking a ball at home, running around the garden or creating mini obstacle courses with pieces of furniture, pillows, and so on. All movement is good!

More about the expert:

Desi Horsman is a leading authority on all things food. She is a qualified clinical nutritionist, wellness coach and professional speaker. Read more about Desi Horsman here.

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