CHOC Children’s encourages parents to kick off the new year with the following tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
Make your children feel loved and important
Recognize every effort and increment of progress or improvement they make; don’t compare siblings; understand your child’s behaviors and emotions. Celebrate their individuality and tell them what makes them special. Assure them that they are loved and safe.
Pay attention to nutrition
Good nutrition is a matter of balance. Provide foods from several food groups at each meal. Emphasize foods that are less processed, such as whole grain breads and cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables. Review your child’s diet with your pediatrician for suggestions.
Be involved in your child’s education
Visit your child’s school, and find out how parents can help. Whether you become active in the parent-teacher organization or volunteer in the school, parent involvement matters. Your child will notice how important education is to you.
Read to your child
Start by the age of 6 months. Reading to children shows them the importance of communication and motivates them to become readers. It also provides a context to discuss issues and learn what is on your child’s mind.
Monitor your children’s media
Monitor what your children see and hear on television, in movies, and in music. Talk with your children about content. Be informed of what your children see or hear when visiting friends. If you feel that a movie or TV program is inappropriate, redirect them to more suitable programming.
Prevent violence by setting good examples
Demonstrate and teach displays of affection, attention, approval, and how to ask for, give and accept forgiveness. All of these promote love, good will, self-esteem and reduce likelihood of violence, aggression, and negative, destructive words and behaviors. Set limits for your children by letting them know what’s expected, and notice when they meet your expectations.
Make sure immunizations are up to date
Review your child’s immunization record with your pediatrician. Make sure your child is current on recommended immunizations.
Provide your child with a tobacco-free environment
Second-hand tobacco smoke increases ear infections, chest infections and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you smoke, consider quitting. Remember, your child loves you and will copy you – if you smoke, your children may grow up to be smokers too.
Practice “safety on wheels”
Make sure everyone in the car is buckled up for every ride, with children in the back seat in age-appropriate child safety seats. All bikers, skaters and skateboarders should wear helmets and other appropriate sports gear.
Do a “childproofing” survey of your home
A child’s-eye view home survey should systematically go from room to room, removing all the “booby traps” that await curious toddlers or preschoolers. Think of poisons, small objects, sharp edges, knives and firearms, and places to fall.