If you’re looking to keep your kids sickness-free through regular visits to a paediatrician clinic, or promote good mental health in your crew with a family therapist, here are some great family health clinic tips for promoting family wellness in 2024.
#1 Make routine health checks a priority
Part of being healthier as a family includes preventative care in little ones. “In the first three years of a child’s life it’s essential to set a good foundation for their development and health,” says DR MOHANA RAJAKULENDRAN of Petite Practice, a paediatrician clinic that provides specialist medical care for babies and children.
It’s key to have routine check-ins with your paediatrician clinic or GP during these years to assess developmental milestones and growth, she advises. “From birth, these are initially two-monthly check-ups, which gradually space out to six-monthly appointments by the time the child is two.”
#2 Book in those vaccinations with your paediatrician clinic
These check-ups can be paired with routine vaccinations. “It’s important to keep on top of recommended vaccine schedules for your local and home countries for early protection against preventable diseases,” explains Dr Rajakulendran. If you’re planning travel, discuss these plans a month ahead with your paediatrician or GP. This is especially important if you’re heading off the beaten track on rural or adventure travel with kids.
Travel vaccinations can give additional protection before you go. “In Asia, protection against hepatitis A might be important, and additional malaria prevention is recommended for certain areas,” says Dr Rajakulendran. “Up-to-date influenza vaccinations before winter travel are also a good idea given the peak in respiratory infections seen.”
#3 Keep on top of kids’ allergies
Another aspect of early preventative care is protection against the development of childhood allergies. According to Dr Rajakulendran “eczema, food allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis are on the rise globally.” Early protection with gentle soap-free cleansers and fragrance-free moisturising can help reduce the risk of early onset eczema in high-risk families, she says. “It’s best to obtain safe weaning advice from your paediatrician so you’re well-equipped to introduce allergens early on, between six to twelve months of age.”
#4 Establish good gut health for little ones
“Maintaining healthy gut balance by the introduction of healthy probiotic-rich foods and supplements early in life can be helpful in reducing the risk of developing allergies,” says Dr Rajakulendran. Increasing outdoor play and exposure to natural environments also helps reduce the risk of allergy development from early in life. “And protecting babies from viral infections early on in life also helps reduce the risk of asthma.”
#5 Give your teen the gift of good mental health with a family therapist
Generation Z (teens and early twenty-somethings) are the hardest hit when it comes to mental health. They’re more likely to face different forms of stress, anxiety and depression, according to LILIAN LOO, family therapist at Promises Healthcare, which provides mental health treatment to adults, adolescents and children.
Home is often where symptoms of constant sadness, withdrawal, sleep deprivation, anxiety or school pressure surface. “It’s useful to have open communication with your teens rather than to dismiss their concerns in a bid to reassure. Normalise conversations about mental health, or they may turn to social media and peers, and risk becoming misinformed,” says Lilian.
A routine of sleeping early and having a good night’s rest is essential to overall mood and functioning. “Exercise releases ‘feel good’ endorphin and serotonin chemicals, and improves fitness, which helps elevate mood,” she adds. “And being active outdoors can also distract from negative thought patterns.”
Some parents worry about the stigma of seeking professional advice, and this may act as a barrier to adolescents accessing the help they need. Lilian recommends that if your teen is showing signs of depression, anxiety and mental health concerns, support them to obtain help from a family therapist early to prevent deterioration.
#6 Take the time to reconnect with your partner
It’s common in Singapore for the breadwinner to work long hours and travel frequently on business trips. While it’s useful to build your own support network, it’s still important to continue nurturing closeness with your spouse. Lilian suggests doing something spontaneous and relaxing like sneaking out for last-minute supper, or catching a late-night movie when the children are asleep and the helper’s at home.
Keep talking! “If you find that both of you have difficulty understanding each other’s needs, have an open and honest conversation. Hear each other out, without judging or blaming,” says Lilian. “If you feel that your marriage is missing the spark or intimacy or you’re becoming like strangers with conversation revolving only around children, it’s time to do a marital health check and work on the marriage at couples therapy.”
#7 Take care of yourself too!
Expat women often experience loneliness due to the sense of isolation and separation from family and friends. Moving to a new country and adjusting to unfamiliar cultures with inadequate support can feel overwhelming. Difficulty obtaining a permit to work can also mean a loss of career.
Lilian highlights the importance of taking time for yourself. You may secretly long for a break which never quite happened earlier due to the demands of work and family. “This may be your season to go slow. Whether it’s an interest in Zumba or K-pop dancing, here’s your window of opportunity to pursue your interests. It’s too good to miss and regret,” she says.
“Reach out and make friends. It offers a sense of comfort when you find likeminded others who may be waiting to connect with you.” Expat women can be found in pre-natal groups, parents’ support groups, mothers’ playgroups, international schools, Facebook and online. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. “It can be stressful going through change when you move cities or become homesick. You may be dealing with job loss or transitioning to a fulltime mum and your identity is taking a dip,” says Lilian. Talking to a therapist will help you find renewed purpose.
Now you know which family health clinic to reach out to, whether it’s a paediatrician clinic or a family therapist, read more about health and fitness here!
This article first appeared in the December 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
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