1. Make sure immunisations are up to date
Review your child’s immunisation record with your GP. Make sure your child has received all the recommended immunisations to date.
2. Provide your child with a tobacco-free environment
Indoor air pollution from tobacco increases the risk of ear infections, chest infections, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you smoke, seriously consider quitting. Remember, the most important indicator of whether your children will grow up to be smokers is whether you smoke. Make your home a smoke-free zone.
3. Read to your children every day
Start by the age of six months. Reading to children shows them the importance of communication and motivates them to become readers. As they get older, it also provides a context to discuss issues and learn what is on your child’s mind.
4. 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 cyclists, skaters and skateboarders should wear helmets and pads where appropriate.
5. Do a “childproofing” survey of your home
Go from room to room with a child’s-eye view, removing all the “booby traps” that await the curious toddler or preschooler. Think of poisons, small objects, sharp edges and objects, and places to fall.
6. Monitor your children’s “media”
Monitor what your children see and hear on television, in films, and in music. Children are affected by what they see and hear, particularly in these times of violent images. Talk to your children about what they see. If you feel that a film or TV programme is inappropriate, redirect your child to something more suitable.
7. Help kids understand smoking, drinking, and the media
Help your teenager understand the difference between the misleading messages in advertising and the truth about the dangers of indulging in alcohol and cigarettes. Talk about ads with your child. Help your child understand the real messages being conveyed. Make sure the TV shows and films your child watches do not glamourise the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
8. Pay attention to food
Nutrition makes a big difference to how children grow, develop and learn. Good nutrition is a matter of balance. Provide foods from several food groups at each meal. Emphasise foods that are less processed, such as whole-grain breads and cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables. Review your children’s diet with your GP for suggestions.
9. Become more involved in school and education
Visit your children’s school. Become active in the parent-teacher organisation. Volunteer in the classroom or for special projects. Be available to help with homework. If your children’s education is important to you, it will be important to them.
10. Make your children feel loved and important
Kids develop a sense of self-worth early in life. They get it from their parents. Listen to what your children have to say. Assure them that they are loved and safe. Praise their individuality, and tell them what makes them special and what you love about them.