Eating meals together as a family has many benefits. Mealtime is a great time to let your child tell you about her interests, concerns, and worries. Encourage your child to talk and to listen to others as they share stories and experiences. This helps keep your family feeling close and connected. Children who have meals with their families are less likely to smoke, drink, and abuse drugs, and more likely to do well in school.
With supervision, your child may enjoy helping to choose and prepare the family meals. Prepare meals that have foods from all food groups: meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and cereals and grains. This helps teach good food habits.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Most children should limit how much fatty food they eat. Bring healthy foods home from the grocery store. Kids should drink soda pop rarely. Milk is a healthier choice. Children over 2 years of age usually should drink low-fat or skim milk, unless they need more calories.
Kids usually have a lot of energy at this age. Make sure your child has plenty of chances to run and play outdoors.
Physical skills vary widely at this age. Find activities that fit your child’s skills. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about choosing a sport that fits your child's interests and body type. Fine motor skills, like writing, improve a lot at this age. Let your child know that you see how she is improving.
Keep reading together each evening. Don’t let video games take up too much of your child’s attention. Limit TV, computer, and video game time to 1 or 2 hours a day. Carefully select the programs you allow your child to view. Make sure that home computers have some kind of filter or parental control. Be sure to watch some of the programs with your child and discuss the show. Avoid violent programming and using the TV as an electronic babysitter. Encourage participation in family games and other activities. Don’t put a TV in your child's bedroom. Having a TV, computer, or video game in your child's bedroom increases your child's risk for obesity, sleep disorders, and attention problems.
Finding friends is very important. Children at this age are imaginative and get along well with others their own age. They are very concerned about what other kids think about them. They are starting to understand that other people have feelings too.
Talk with your child about both the enjoyable and difficult aspects of friendships. Teach your child about helping people "save face" when they are angry or embarrassed. Group activities allow your child the chance to learn leadership skills.
It’s important to start talking about sex with your child. Ask your child if she has any questions about sex. If she doesn’t want to talk about sex, don’t force information on her. Once your child realizes that you feel comfortable discussing sex, she may ask you for information. Talk about the values you have about sexuality.
Accidents are the number one cause of deaths in children. Kids like to take risks at this age but are not well prepared to judge the dangers. Your child still needs close supervision at this age. You should model safe choices.
Traffic and Bicycle Safety
Fires and Burns
Immunizations protect your child against several serious, life-threatening diseases. Your child should get a flu shot every year. Your child’s healthcare provider will let you know if your child is up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Be sure to bring your child's shot record to all visits with your provider.
A routine checkup every year is recommended.