General information about your health including helpful resources to support you and your family.
It’s a real worry when your child or young person becomes ill. Understandably, we don’t want to take any risks.
Here you will find useful information about registering with a GP, the importance of having a basic first aid kit, minor ailments and head lice and nits plus some other advice that will help keep your family healthy. You can find more information about child health on NHS UK and there are a number of apps available that offer further advice and support.
Getting into good sleeping habits is important for all of us. This can seem difficult at times when you have children, however, good sleep is important for your child’s physical and mental wellbeing as well as your own. The following links provide some excellent advice that you can follow for yourself with your family. If for any reason problems still persist, please contact your 0 to 19 nurse team for further advice.
For more information
Institute of Health Visiting – Sleep and the older child
Information leaflets from your 0 to 19 Torbay team to download.
Poor dental hygiene affects not only your child’s teeth but also their health and wellbeing.
Taking your child to the dentist from a young age (usually when their first milk teeth appear) is the best way to avoid problems such as tooth decay. Tooth decay can be avoidable yet it remains an issue in many young children.
Your child may experience pain or infections in the mouth which may cause other childhood difficulties such as poor eating habits, sleep disturbance and general behavioural issues. Registering with a Dentist and attending recommended reviews may help parents recognize if their children are at a particular risk of dental decay.
‘Brushing for Life’ is a government scheme to promote oral hygiene in young children. The ‘brushing for life’ pack contains a fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush offered to children under the age of 3. The pack also contains further information about dental care and keeping teeth healthy – these are provided from your health visitor at your child’s 9 to 12 month review.
Keeping your children’s teeth healthy will help them to maintain clean and healthy teeth and gums and develop good oral hygiene habits they will need throughout the rest of their lives. Remember the most important thing is brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to have regular dental check-ups. Although children enjoy eating and drinking sugary food and drinks it’s best to keep these to a minimum and for children to only have them at mealtimes.
Children aged 7 and over
Children aged 7 and over should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them to make sure they brush properly and for about 2 minutes:
- Brush at least twice daily for about 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush last thing at night before bed and at least on 1 other occasion.
- Use fluoride toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride (check label).
- Spit out after brushing and don’t rinse – if you rinse, the fluoride won’t work as well.
For further information and finding local Dentists, see links below.
Information leaflets from your 0 to 19 Torbay team to download.
Head lice infestation is a condition caused by a parasitic insect. Live lice can be found anywhere on the scalp; the eggs are most commonly found behind the ears and at the back of the neck. The severity of infestation varies from a few lice to thousands of lice, but a typical infestation might have about 30 lice per head. Head lice infestation is most common in children 4–11 years of age.
Confirming active infestation of head lice includes systematic combing of wet or dry hair with a head lice detection comb. A live louse must be found in order to confirm active head lice infestation. An itching scalp is not sufficient to diagnose active infestation.
The presence of louse eggs alone, whether hatched (nits) or unhatched, does not indicate active infestation as it is hard to distinguish between dead and live eggs with the naked eye, and eggs may maintain a viable appearance for weeks after death.
All members of the household and close contacts should also be checked for head lice as untreated family members and close contacts may cause re-infestation in the people, who have been treated.
Treatment of head lice
First line treatment is Dimeticone 4% lotion (Hedrin) which is a physical insecticide. This can be purchased over the counter or be given as a prescription. It is rubbed into dry hair and scalp, allowed to dry naturally, shampoo is applied and rinsed off after at least 8 hours (or overnight). A repeat application is needed after 7 days. This prescription can be given by a Health Visitor or a GP.
For further information:
The NHS website – Head lice and nits
Torbay health and care videos – finding and treating headlice
Puberty is the word used to describe the physical and emotional changes that happen for boys and girls as they become adults.
It happens at different times for different children. It usually begins sometime between 9 to 14 years old. Puberty is not a quick process, usually taking around 4 years for the physical changes to complete. The emotional changes often takes much longer.
The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11, while for boys the average age is 12. But there’s no set timetable, so don’t worry if your child reaches puberty before or after their friends. It’s completely normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages of 8 to 14. The process takes about four years overall. (The NHS website)
Puberty can be a confusing time for young people as there are a lot of changes in the chemicals in the body (hormones) and in the way they think and feel. Finding out about what happens during puberty can help you understand your child better and give you more confidence to support them.
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The average age boys start to notice changes is around 12 years old.
- The first sign is often testicles (balls) getting bigger and the skin of the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles) getting thinner and redder.
- Body and facial hair grows, getting thicker and curlier as puberty progresses.
- Their voice will get deeper. As this happens your child’s voice might sometimes go squeaky or deep.
- Their penis will sometimes be erect. This can happen without warning, sometimes because of sexual feelings, sometimes for no reason at all.
- They may notice some swelling around their nipples, this does not last and it is normal.
- They have a growth spurt! (About 3 inches a year) and become more muscular.
The average age girls start to notice changes is around 11 years old.
- The first sign is often the beginnings of breast growth – this varies from person to person.
- Body hair will grow.
- They will sweat more (and it may smell).
- They may start getting spots and pimples.
- They grow! (About 2 – 3 inches a year).
- Their body shape will change – their hips will widen, waist gets narrower and they will have more body fat on arms, legs and upper back. This is normal and as long as children keep active and eat healthily, it is nothing to worry about.
- Periods (menstruation) usually begin around two years after you first notice early signs of puberty.
You can help your child get through the physical and emotional challenges that puberty brings. Finding out about what happens for your child during puberty, will help you be prepared for the bumps along the way.
- Talk to your children from an early age about their minds, bodies and how they work.
- It is never too late to start the chat. There are books and websites that can help.
- Take advantage of the moments when your child wants your love and affection, they often need this more than they like to say.
- Spend some time reminding yourself what will be happening physically and emotionally to your child; this will help you feel more confident in helping your child understand.
- Make sure they have the things they need to cope with the physical changes like deodorant and sanitary products.
- Be tuned in to when your child needs privacy. Embarrassment can come along with the changes.
Rules and Boundaries
- Your child may start to ‘act out’ and their behaviour may become more challenging. Keep your house rules and boundaries.
- Be sensitive to the huge changes your child is experiencing – they are probably finding it hard to understand why they are behaving this way too.
- Be mindful that this can be a time when children make the wrong choices about the people they hangout with, and the decisions they make – watch out for signs that they may be out of their depth and need your support and advice.
- Encourage your child to work towards independence – how much, and when will vary from child to child.
- Support your child to take on more responsibilities such as cooking meals or walking the dog. This can help them, and you, develop confidence in their ability.
Other Things To Think About
- Be prepared for your child to be more questioning of the choices you make and the way you behave – it can be a shock when your child no longer thinks you know everything! This is an important developmental step towards independence.
- Think about your own behaviours – your child is watching, and you are still an important role model.
- Seek support for yourself from friends and family, maybe from those who have gone through this with their own children.
You might notice changes in your child’s mood. One minute they might be full of energy and fun, and the next be tired and grumpy.
You might notice that they are;
Angry and irritable
Tearful and / or low in mood
Have low self–esteem
Challenge your rules and opinions.
These swings in mood during puberty are very common. Occasionally it can be a symptom of a mental health problem.
Young people may experience their first ‘crush’ during puberty. Crushes are very common at this stage. A crush is usually a harmless attraction to someone else. It can be very powerful and confusing. The crush could be on their friend, or sometimes an adult they really admire, like a teacher or a celebrity.
The feelings are strong and very normal. The feelings could be for someone of the opposite sex, or for someone of the same sex. This does not necessarily show what the young person’s sexuality will be in the longer term.
Reassure your child that these feelings are normal. Do not tease your child about this – this person is an important part of their life right now, their feelings are very real.
Adults should be able to be kind, but keep firm boundaries if they discover a young person has a crush on them. If you are worried an adult is taking advantage of your child’s feelings, you should talk to your child and seek further advice if you are worried.
One of the common changes that happens during puberty, is young people start to get spots, blackheads and pimples. This is really difficult for them, as it comes at a time when they are often more self conscious about their appearance. It is because of hormonal changes, not because of dirty skin. However – keeping skin clean will help.
There are many products available to buy to help with skin problems. The best place to get advice at first on what will help your child is your local pharmacist.
It is common to see a real change in body shape. In early puberty you may worry your child is putting on weight. Girls especially see an increase in their body fat.
If your child is active and eats a wide range of healthy foods it usually settles as they grow taller.
If your child is inactive, or does not eat healthily, this can make it harder for them to keep at a healthy weight. This may be a good time for the whole family to think about being more active, and introducing more healthy foods.
Hormonal changes also mean body hair grows – how much hair, and where it grows varies from person to person. It will grow on faces, underarms and around their private parts.
There is no ‘right amount of hair’. Remind your child to try not to compare themselves with others. Your child may feel proud of this or they may feel self conscious.
Some young people feel keen to remove the hair – this is down to personal choice.
For further information:
Find out more about puberty here
Watch this helpful video from Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust – finding and treating headlice
A guide to health and wellbeing for young people aged 12 and over
We offer a weekly, safe and confidential wellbeing drop-in session in the local area for anyone aged 8 to 18 years. We can offer wellbeing advice, signpost you to services and talk about any difficulties with which you may feel you need some extra support.
If your child has not been fully successful with toilet training and continues to have accidents once they start school your 0 to 19 service can offer continued support.
Daytime wetting affects 1 in 75 children aged 5 years and above. It is usual for younger children to have wetting accidents as part of the toilet training process but as children get older, daytime wetting can be more difficult to manage at school or in social situations.
The following are ways in which you as a parent can support your child:
- Encourage your child to drink regularly through the day, 6-8 water based drinks each day. For more information on recommended fluid intake for children, see: Water UK.
- Continue to give younger children prompts.
- Constipation can be the cause of wetting, provide a balanced diet which includes fibre, cereals, fruit and vegetables. See: The NHS website – Good foods to help your digestion.
- Check that your child’s school allows easy access to drinking water and to the toilets.
- Encourage your child to wait before getting off the toilet to make sure that they have fully emptied their bladder.
- Above all stay calm and relaxed.
Bedwetting (known as Nocturnal Enuresis) is a common childhood condition affecting an estimated 500,000 children and young people in the United Kingdom (UK). Bedwetting usually stops happening as your child gets older without the need for any treatment. Please be aware that bedwetting is not the child’s fault, it happens during sleep and there is no conscious awareness that it is happening.
The following are ways in which you as a parent can support your child:
- Drinking a good amount of fluid is crucial in training the bladder to fill and empty – encourage your child to visit the toilet to empty their bladder regularly throughout the day.
- Encourage your child to drink water based drinks as some fizzy drinks, tea, coffee and dark squashes such as blackcurrant can have a diuretic effect on the bladder causing the need to go to the toilet more often.
- Constipation can be the cause of bedwetting, provide a balanced diet which includes fibre, cereals, fruit and vegetables.
- A bedtime routine of going to the toilet as part of getting ready for bed and again just before settling down to sleep – should ensure that the bladder is empty before going to sleep.
- Ensure that your child has easy access to the toilet during the night. Perhaps a night light or a light switch near the bed, or leaving the bathroom light on can be useful.
- Try to avoid ‘waking’ or ‘lifting’ your child overnight to go to the toilet – whilst this may result in a dry bed it does not help them recognise and wake to the sensation of a full bladder on their own.
- Remain calm and positive and supportive of your child – remember it is not their fault.
Please note that much of the above information has been resourced from the ERIC website. The ERIC website is an excellent resource for further information, advice and support around this topic.
Soiling is when a child regularly poos their pants. If they are already potty-trained, the soiling is often because they are badly constipated.
You may feel angry or frustrated when your child keeps pooing themselves. But they aren’t likely to be doing it on purpose and may not even realise its happening. Causes of soiling, advice about when to seek medical help and treatment from a GP and things to try at home can be found on the NHS website.
The NHS website – Soiling (child pooing their pants)
There is also a lot of useful information about young children and school aged children soiling, and a ‘poo guide’ on the ERIC website.
Constipation is a problem for 1 in 3 children. It commonly starts around the potty training stage and can also affect babies.
It is a medical problem that needs treating properly to stop it getting worse. Constipation won’t go away by itself.
Go to the ERIC website to find out the common causes, the signs to look out for and how to relieve constipation in your child.
Seek professional support from your 0 to19 public health nurse team if problems persist and can complete a professional assessment to identify why the issue is happening and offer support to resolve or manage it.
ERIC – Children’s Bladder & Bowel Charity – Free helpline: 0808 169 9949 (Monday to Thursday, 10am – 2pm)
The NHS website – Constipation in young children
The NHS website – Pelvic floor exercises
Your child will have developed relationships with you and members of their family, they will also form relationships with people they meet such as friends at school, clubs or activities, as well as grown-ups such as their teachers and teaching assistants, instructors and activity co-ordinators. Relationships may also be formed with people they meet online.
There may be times when your child struggles with certain relationships, such as friendships. Your child may feel excluded from a certain group of friends, or they may experience bullying. As a parent it can be difficult to hear that your child feels hurt or upset, but it is better for them to talk about how they’re feeling than to keep such feelings inside them. The best thing you can do is listen and support your child as they experience the ups and downs in their relationships and losing and making friends.
There are some children who for one reason or another find it difficult to form relationships with others. This may include children with learning disabilities or autism. However it doesn’t mean they can’t develop relationships altogether.
What is bullying?
At some point your child may experience bullying, where someone intimidates them or causes them harm, such as teasing, name-calling, hitting, kicking, hair-pulling, spreading rumours or excluding them from playtime or social events.
Where bullying might happen
Bullying may happen in school or at a club your child attends, usually in a place where there is limited adult supervision such as the playground, hallways, dining room or classroom before lessons begin. Bullying can also happen by text or online, which is known as cyberbullying.
How your child might behave if they are being bullied
Your child may or may not tell you they are being bullied, but you may notice some changes in their behaviour such as not wanting to go to school, being irritable, anxious, aggressive, having damaged or missing belongings, bedwetting or waking-up at night.
What to do if you think your child is being bullied
If your child tells you they are being bullied, or if you suspect your child is being bullied, make time to talk about it in a quiet space and listen carefully to what they have to say. You can support your child by explaining that bullying is unacceptable and no one should have to put up with it, that you will support them and do whatever you can to stop it.
Contact your child’s school
Make an appointment to see your child’s teacher as soon as you can. Beforehand, think about what you would like to achieve from the meeting and prepare what you want to say. Remember that the teacher may not be aware of the bullying and, although you may feel upset and emotional, try to stay calm. Explain what has been happening to your child, giving specific examples, ask what the school’s anti-bullying policy is and what action the teacher will take. Arrange a further meeting to discuss progress.
If you are unhappy with the way the teacher deals with the situation, make an appointment to see the head teacher and do the same as above.
NSPCC: Bullying – Tips for Parents and Carers
Bullying UK: Bullying and school
Kidscape: help with bullying