1) Cut your child's health risks by staying away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
2) 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.
3) Talk with your pediatrician to be sure your child's health records are up to date, and that he has had all required immunizations.
4) 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 and remove furniture with hard or pointed edges. Keep small objects and hard or round foods (such as carrots, grapes, hot dogs and hard candies) away from children under three years old to prevent choking.
5) Provide safe transportation. Be sure your child's safety seat is properly installed in your car, and that it is the appropriate type for her height and weight. Remove rear-facing infant seats from front seats with air bags. Remember that the back seat is the safest place for healthy children under age 12 to ride, and show your love by insisting they buckle up (just like you).
6) Write a list of questions to ask your child's caregivers to be sure the care setting is healthy, developmentally appropriate and safe. (See the AAP public education brochure entitled, Child Care: What's Best for Your Family for a list of suggested questions.) Spend a few minutes observing the routine and communicating with staff to make sure your child seems comfortable and happy in this setting, whether it is a new or established arrangement.
7) 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.
8) Renew your efforts to monitor your child's activities and provide structure to her day. Limit the kinds and amounts of television she watches as well as other media she uses. Enforce her bedtime and homework time, and have 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.
9) 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 or spanking. Avoid unwanted tension and frustration by allowing a bit of extra time for young children so they don't feel rushed and you don't feel hassled.
10) Give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he 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.
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