If you have not already made at least one New Year’s resolution, my guess is that you have at least thought about it. Each year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) makes a list of suggested resolutions that are directed primarily toward children. The 2009 AAP list of New Year’s resolutions focuses on suggestions that are applicable for all ages and include many of the topics that I have discussed during the past year. Keep these tips handy throughout the year and resolve to make your 2017 healthy in many ways!
Do a “childproofing” survey of your home – A “child’s eye view” home survey should include a room to room inspection with removal of all “booby traps” that await the curious toddler or preschooler. When surveying, think of poisons, small objects, sharp edges, knives, firearms and places to fall. Even older children can be at risk just because they are kids. 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. Stay off of the telephone while driving even if you have a hands-free system. The life you save could be your own or a child's mother or father. Ask your neighbors – 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 pose a real risk to your child. Develop an emergency plan – Check smoke detectors once a month to ensure that they are working properly. Involve all family members in developing fire and tornado emergency plans. Hold practice fire and tornado drills several times a year so that everyone in the family knows what to do in case of an emergency. Teach young children the primary phone number for reaching a parent or trusted adult and how to dial the phone in case of an emergency. Pay attention to nutrition – Nutrition makes a big difference in how kids grow, develop and learn. Good nutrition is a matter of balance. Provide foods from several food groups at each meal. Emphasize foods that are less processed, such as whole grain breads and cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables. Involve the kids in choosing nutritious food and helping with the cooking. This is an excellent time to teach safety in the kitchen. Don't forget to exercise daily - Exercise is good for the body as well as the brain. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day will help to reduce cardiovascular disease as well as many other health risks. Make sure immunizations are up to date – Review your child's immunization record with your pediatrician. Make sure your child and you are current on recommended immunizations. Immunization recommendations for all ages can be found at www.cdc.gov. It is not too late to get a flu shot and it could save you large medical bills, potential hospitalization or days of misery. Monitor you children’s “media” – Monitor what your children see and hear on television, in movies, in music and in social media. Children are affected by what they see and hear, particularly violent images. Talk to your children about "content." If you feel that a movie or TV program is inappropriate, redirect your child to more suitable programming. Learn about bullying and ensure that your children know how to protect themselves against it. Help kids understand tobacco, alcohol and the media– Help your child understand the difference between the misleading messages in advertising and the truth about the dangers of using alcohol and tobacco products. Talk with your child about ads. Direct your child toward TV shows and movies that do not glamorize the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Read to your child everyday – Reading to children shows them the importance of communication and motivates them to become readers. It also provides a context to discuss issues and learn what is on your child's mind. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by media or other devices when you should be engaged in special time with your children. Make your children feel loved and important – Kids develop a sense of self-worth early in life. Listen to what your children have to say. Assure them that they are loved and safe. Celebrate their individuality, and tell them what makes them special and what you admire about them.
Resolve to make participation in the life of the church important to you and your family in 2017. The ELCA’s mission statement, “God’s Work, Our Hands,” underscores the importance of finding opportunities within the church community for sharing your time and talents with others to serve God.
Add your own tips to this list and have a safe and healthy 2017! Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org, December 2009. Connie Pearson, RN, MN, Chair Health Ministries Task Force