With 2013 just beginning, the following are tips for a healthier, happier New Year for you and your kids from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Prevent violence by setting good examples. Demonstrate and teach displays of affection, attention, and how to say “I’m sorry,” and how to ask for, give, and accept forgiveness. All of these promote love and good will and reduce the likelihood of violence, aggression, and negative and destructive words and behaviors.
Set limits for your children by letting them know what’s expected, and noticing when they meet your expectations. Celebrate their successes with them. Non-physical forms of discipline work best. Try to avoid hitting, slapping, shaking, or spanking. Your children may copy you and think that it is OK to hit and hurt other people.
Read, talk, and sing to your child every day. Start from infancy. Reading to children motivates them to become readers. It shows them the importance of communication and benefits their language development, thinking skills, and intellectual development. It provides a context to discuss issues and learn what is on your child’s mind. It also provides an opportunity to “bond” with your child and build a closer more loving relationship.
Monitor your children’s “media.” Monitor very carefully what your children see and hear on television, in movies, in music, and on the Internet. Children are affected by what they see and hear, particularly in these times of violent images. If you feel that a movie or TV program is inappropriate, redirect them to more suitable programming. Be informed of what your children see or hear when visiting friends. Limit the amount of TV your child watches. Do not use the TV as a babysitter.
Provide your child with a tobacco-free environment. Second-hand tobacco smoke increases ear infections, chest infections, respiratory problems, and the likelihood of 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. Make your home and car smoke-free zones.
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 the curious toddler or preschooler. Think of poisons, small objects, sharp edges, knives and firearms, and places to fall.
Asking saves lives. Ask your neighbor if they have a gun before sending your kids over to play. If the answer is “No,” that’s one less thing you have to worry about.
If the answer is “Yes”…you have to determine if your child’s safety is at risk. Guns should be kept in a gun safe with the ammunition locked separately, or they can pose a real risk to your child. If you have any doubts about the safety of someone’s home, you should politely invite their children to play at your house instead.