Do you find that on hot days you and your children are more irritable?  Do they find it harder to concentrate, focus, and get their homework done? There is a simple explanation for this:

When we start to dehydrate, the first organ from which the body draws water is the brain – because it is made up of 90% water!  So, dehydration doesn’t just affect the body but the brain too, reducing children’s speed of learning and ability to remember.

With the current drought and heat wave conditions affecting our country, it is imperative that we keep our families well-hydrated with water to ensure that the blood can carry much-need oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the body and the brain. I can personally testify that it works. The first thing that I noticed from the time my children were in pre-school was that a good drink of water could dissolve irritability in just a few minutes as well as improving their energy and focus. It was like magic!

Water-wise tips to help children ‘be nice’ & learn more easily:

  • Coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, cordials and fruit juices contain water but are digested slowly because they are identified by the body as food. Rather replace these drinks with more water.
  • Kids will drink water if it is easily accessible – fill lots of bottles every night before going to bed so that they can be picked up from the kitchen counter or fridge when required.
  • Eat as much fresh, uncooked fruit and vegetables as you can because they contain water as well as vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
  • Put water on the table at mealtimes.
  • Encourage your child’s school to allow them to keep a sucky bottle of water under their chairs during class. The teacher will have a much happier bunch of learners who can learn more easily.
  • A child needs to drink between four and six glasses of water per day (depending on their age and size) to reduce the effects of stress and maintain balanced, consistent energy levels.  In extremely hot conditions, children may need extra water.
  • To maintain electrical balance in your brain you need balanced cell charges and sufficient water in your system.
  • As soon as you notice your child is sluggish, give him/her a glass of water and spot the difference.

Water is described as “the magic elixir for learning, the secret potion if you will”, by Dr Carla Hannaford in her respected book, Smart Moves (Great Ocean, 1995). Help your children to buy into drinking more water – there are untold benefits. And there is nothing quite like an ice cold bottle or glass of water to ensure that everyone remains un-frazzled in this heat.


All ages

  • Make sure that you, as parents, role model drinking water for your children.
  • Ensure that water is always readily available in your home.
  • Always pack bottles of water into the car when you are going to be out and about. It can save you from family meltdowns.
  • Gradually wean your children off too much fruit juice, cordials and fizzy drinks, replacing them with water.
  • When the weather is extremely hot, remind your family members to drink more water.
  • Check out the water policy at your child’s school.
  • Make sure your children know not to drink water from rivers, dams etc. as it may be contaminated. If your school has a borehole, children must know not to drink water from the borehole tap.


Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)