Tips to help your kid grow up happy and healthy.
As a parent, you are an important teacher for your child about growing up healthy. Here are some recommendations with links to more information to help you succeed at raising healthy children.
Tips for working parents
Children age 3 to 5 are beginning to show independence and are better able to express their feelings – including verbalizing their frustration when things don’t go their way. Navigating these new skills can sometimes be challenging for working parents who may have limited flexibility and need to keep things on schedule. Here are some suggestions to help.
As you and your child steer through ages 5 to 13 together, expect some difficulties along the way. You’ll both make mistakes, but you can learn from them. Keep in mind that many “problems” of children in this age group are just a phase. They’re just a normal part of growing up.
Influencing your child’s health behaviors
Research shows that how you react to illness has a lot to do with how your parents reacted to illness when you were a child. As with most other activities, children repeat what they learn from their parents.
To keep your child healthy, she should receive the recommended childhood vaccinations or immunizations. Many vaccinations are given in a series of doses over a certain period of time. To be protected, your child needs each dose at the right time. Vaccines may cause mild side effects. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of vaccines. Also talk to the doctor about any missed vaccinations. Your child will need catch-up vaccinations for complete protection. Your child should also get a flu vaccination every year.
How do we get our kids into the handwashing habit? The obvious first step is to practice what you preach. Wash your hands before eating or cooking a meal, after using the bathroom, and after working or playing with your hands. More than half of food-related illness outbreaks are caused by unwashed or poorly washed hands.
Good sleep habits
Children can easily fall into bedtime habits that are not always healthy. Here are some tips for establishing good sleep habits and suggestions when a child is having sleep problems.
Bedwetting isn’t something your child does on purpose. Never punish or tease a child for wetting the bed. This could worsen the problem, making your child feel ashamed and embarrassed. Instead, be positive and supportive. Praise your child for success and even for trying hard to stay dry.
Childhood obesity in the U.S. is growing at an alarming rate. Since 1980, the obesity rate among U.S. children and adolescents has tripled. In fact, recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that about 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents between ages 2 and 19 are obese. Most children become obese because of a combination of poor diet, lack of physical activity, and other lifestyle issues.
Raising smoke-free kids
Parents can take practical steps to keep their children smoke-free. At first, young people begin smoking to look cool without understanding the addictive nature of tobacco. But a person who starts smoking when they’re young is likely to continue the habit into adulthood. And quitting smoking later in life is a hard task.
Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol
Talking with your child about drugs and alcohol can be difficult. But don't ignore these topics. Children learn about these substances and feel pressure to use them at a very young age. If your child is older than 5 or anytime your child starts asking, talk with him about drugs and alcohol. Here are some guidelines about how to start talking and help your kids be substance-free.
As children grow and develop, what they see and hear, especially on television, can easily influence them. While television programs can be educational, many children watch too much television. TV programs can show children violent behavior that you do not want them to imitate, or that can cause fear. TV may also show children poor eating habits through commercials for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Too much TV watching can also take away time from reading, studying, learning activities, play, and exercise. Television can also show alcohol and drug use, smoking, and sexual behavior before a child is emotionally ready to understand these issues and practice good decision-making.
Games build strong minds
Scrabble, Monopoly — even jigsaw puzzles or tic-tac-toe — do more to help children build analytical, organizational, and creative skills. As adults, your kids will need those abilities, which may keep their minds sharp as they reach old age.
Being bullied isn’t something most children want to talk about. Yet, 1 out of 4 children report such peer abuse. The immediate result is low self-esteem and depression. These negative health effects and others may even linger into adulthood. Here’s how you can help a bullied child.
Lying and stealing
Lying and stealing are common, but inappropriate, behaviors in school-aged children. While some severe forms of these behaviors can indicate a more serious psychological problem, most of the time it is simply a common behavior the child will outgrow. Lying and stealing are more common in boys than in girls, and occur most often in children ages 5 to 8 years.
Your child's mental health
Children can have mental health disorders that interfere with the way they think, feel, and act. Some behavior problems are normal child development. Some require professional help. Children's mental health is as important as their physical health. You should take great care to help a child who has a mental health problem. Mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders can affect the child's future. Here are some answers to questions parents often ask about their child's mental health.
It is extremely difficult to cope with stressful situations that last for a long time. Children have less ability to cope with stress because of their limited life experiences. Here are some symptoms that indicate your child may be having difficulty adjusting.
The normal stresses of childhood are compounded by the pressure to succeed, whether it is at play or in academics. Media and advertisements reinforce the need to be perfect and get ahead. This pressure is very difficult for the developing mind to absorb and process. Although you may help cause your children's stress, you can also help ease it.
Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf? When you were 4 or 5 years old, you probably were. If you have children this age, you can count on their exhibiting fears of wild animals, monsters, and the dark, whether you are from Cleveland or Hong Kong, London or L.A. But have no fear. It’s a normal part of their development.
Nightmares and night terrors
A night terror is a partial waking from sleep with behaviors such as screaming, kicking, panic, sleep walking, thrashing, or mumbling. They are harmless and each episode will end in deep sleep. While night terrors are not immediately harmful, they can resemble other conditions or lead to problems for the child. Here’s how you can help your child if he has nightmares or night terrors.
When your child refuses to go to school
School avoidance syndrome is one of the most common causes of vague, unverifiable symptoms in school-age children. This syndrome may be triggered by stress. How does a parent distinguish between a real illness and anxiety? Ask yourself these questions.
When to keep your child home from school
You have plenty of other things to do at 6:30 in the morning than play amateur doctor. Yet that's the situation many parents face when a child awakens with a health complaint and you must determine whether the complaint is serious enough to warrant a sick day. Here are some tips for deciding whether to keep a child at home.
When to call the doctor
When your child complains of a sore throat, stomachache, or headache, you worry. You want to do whatever you can to help your child feel better quickly. Sometimes, you call your child's healthcare provider for advice, and sometimes you call for an appointment. But how do you know when you should care for your child at home and when you should call?
June 22, 2016