So, having carefully inculcated your offspring with this virtuous precept, how can you object when they thoughtfully bring an astonishing range of coughs, colds and other catarrh-laden ailments home to distribute amongst their nearest and dearest?
And it's truly remarkable how much goo can emerge from the relatively minute nasal passages of the average child. In fact, trying to avoid the smearing of said goo onto newly donned silk/satin/cashmere clothing prior to an important engagement is what teaches parents to dress solely in second-hand denim and heavy-duty cotton.
The key to successful negotiation of the perils of phlegm is to keep the health of both parent and child in mind.
Fresh fruit and vegetables. Ok, you've heard it many trillion times before, but it's not going away because it's true Ã¢Â€Â“ they're good for you, and particularly if you want to avoid infections. This is because they contain heaps of vitamin C, and masses of antioxidants. The more (naturally) colourful, the better. Get your child to help pick out veg in a rainbow of colours for their dinner plate. See how many letters of the alphabet you can cram into a fruit salad (apple, banana, clementineÃ¢Â€Â¦ I'll let you off V and X, but zucchini is technically a fruit, although it may not taste so great in fruit salad!). Well nourished children will have stronger immune systems and be better equipped to throw off infections.
Swap sweets full of refined sugar, which is bad for immune function, for dried fruit full of minerals and complex carbohydrates Ã¢Â€Â“ great for immune function and for energy.
The minute you spy snot, get them off dairy products, which tend to encourage mucus formation. There are many dairy-free substitutes now, and there's information on healthy dairy-free diets for children at www.vegetarian.org.uk.
Good circulation is necessary to get immune cells patrolling the bloodstream to keep bugs at bay. You may not have any problem keeping your children active, but join them for a run-around to give your own immune cells a shove.
Immune systems are stronger given plenty of sleep. Early bedtime now has even more appealÃ¢Â€Â¦
Turn down the central heating a notch and get children involved in outdoor activities.
If your offspring seem to suffer from a constant stream of colds throughout the winter months, it might be worth thinking about giving their immune system a helping hand. The herb Echinacea is best known for immune support by helping the white blood cells to identify and attack invading bacteria and viruses. It may be that your child's immune system has been lowered due to frequent doses of medication such as antibiotics or a poor immune system has been inherited from parents or grandparents. If your child hasn't taken Echinacea before then be aware that a tiny number of people have an allergy to it and may react with a skin rash that dies down once they stop taking it. Other than that, it's a wonderful remedy to get them through the start of school terms (when there's a sort of swap-shop of bugs between buddies).
Give it just once daily for prevention, but up it to three times daily if a bug takes hold.
If your child suffers from a runny nose but does not appear to have any accompanying cold or flu infection, it may be worth checking that they are not suffering from some sort of food allergy. Allergies to foods such as eggs, dairy products, nuts, additives and flavourings can all lead to poor immune function.
Plantago is another herb to keep tabs on. It helps clear the ear/nose/throat tract of catarrh, and is therefore invaluable for ear infections, sinus congestion, and a general over-abundance of the aforementioned goo. It works best when accompanied by a reduction in dairy intake and refined sugar. If your child has suffered from a few bouts of glue ear consider using Echinacea and Plantago to help tackle the underlying problem. Both can be taken long term - great for children suffering from continual congestion to help rebuild their immune system over a period of time.
Coughing is necessary to remove catarrh from the respiratory system, but sometimes the muck won't shift. Look for remedies containing Ivy or Thyme, as these are both excellent for thinning mucus to make it easier to expel, whilst easing the spasms of unproductive hacking. There's nothing better than hearing the blissful silence from the bedroom as a child drifts off to sleep instead of retching with dry coughs.
Head straight for the doctor ifÃ¢Â€Â¦
Your child has a prolonged or high fever Your child has a persistent low-level cough Your child springs a rash of any kind Your child has on-going headaches