Parenting In Focus: Off to a great start

We know that some of the things you do in the early years of your child’s life make a difference throughout her life. Help your child get off to a great start and one you can be proud of by doing the following:

• Feed her nutritious foods. Even in these early years you are setting a pattern, so make sure it is one that provides healthy amounts of healthy foods. More children today are overweight and having medical problems such as diabetes. What you do in these early years is critical. Feed her lots of fruits and vegetables. Try not to go to fast-food places frequently because the food is very fatty.

• Talk with him a lot. This helps his brain develop and helps his vocabulary expand. This is an important way your child believes he is getting smarter — and he is.

• Encourage her to play. She needs exercise (moving, running, jumping, crawling) as part of her life, and it begins by playing. When she watches television or plays on the computer it may keep her out of trouble, but it doesn’t help her learn.

• Read to him regularly. Teach him to love books. Encourage him to pick out his favorite book to read. Let him hear how proud you are as he improves his reading.

• Take her to places to teach her about the world. Don’t forget, the grocery store is one of those places.

• Keep up on his immunizations. This is one way to keep him healthy. Even teaching him to cover his nose when he sneezes is important.

• Learn about safety. She is depending on you to keep her safe.

• Love your child. Your love, praise and delight at your child’s accomplishments make your child feel good about himself or herself.

Spend some time to think about not only the ways to give your child a good start, but also ways to pay attention to the many ways your child makes you proud. Think about the many ways you are proud of your child on a regular basis.

Are there incidents that quickly come to your mind? Does he feed the dog every day? Is she kind to the neighbor’s little girl who can be rather annoying? Does he give the best hugs in the world? Does she ask you if she can help you? Does she say, “thank you” and “please” on a regular basis?

Do you tell him or her what makes you especially proud of them? Do you tell others including your partner about the accomplishments of your children?

This unique and special child is a one of a kind. She or he may have some of the common characteristics of a typical child, but the way she uses them are unique. You are a significant factor in how she develops.

Take the time to get her or him off to a good start because each child is special. They are special because of who they are and also because of who as a parent you are.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.