From the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Before your child is born, stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
- Help your child’s early brain development by setting aside time for reading. Even a young baby enjoys the attention and the sound of her parent’s voice, and children of all ages will benefit from a love of reading.
- Talk with your pediatrician to be sure your child’s health records are up to date, and that he has had all required immunizations. Keep a copy of health records at home.
- Check your home for potential hazards and remove them. For example, be sure medicines, cleaning supplies and other potentially hazardous substances are inaccessible to children. Remove sharp objects from little ones reach, remove furniture with hard or pointed edges, and keep small objects away from children younger than 3 years of age to prevent choking. Check with local officials to see if your home or water supply should be checked for lead.
- Provide safe transportation. Remove rear-facing infant seats from front seats with air bags. Be sure your child’s safety seat is property installed in your car, and that it is the appropriate type for her height and weight. Remember that the back seat is the safest place for healthy children younger than age 12 to ride, and show your love by insisting they buckle up (just like you).
- Write a list of questions to ask your child’s caregivers to be sure the care setting is safe (including transportation), healthy and developmentally appropriate. Does your care provider know of any community efforts or activities that utilize child care settings to provide health and safety information to children, parents and staff? Make a note to get involved.
- Use plenty of positive words. Encourage your child with phrases like “You can do it,” and “You’re such a big boy.” Nurture his self-esteem and self-confidence by praising a job well done, and show interest in what he is saying.
- Renew your efforts to monitor your child’s activities and provide structure to her day by limiting the kinds and amounts of television she watches, enforcing her bedtime and homework time and having meals at predictable times. To help her learn to respect her body, set a time to join your child in a physical activity, and offset gifts of candy with healthy treats.
- Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.” Handle frustration and anger in non-hurtful ways and without name-calling. (Avoid unwanted tension and frustration by allowing a bit of extra time for transitions for young children so they don’t feel rushed and you don’t feel hassled.)
- Give him a hug. Or a cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection your child favors. Try this when your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood. And don’t forget to say “I love you” to children of all ages!