You could just parent by instinct, but it is much better to supplement your instinct with a little helpful advice from some of the parents who have come before you.
While some of these things experts figured out through years and years of research, others are simply tips that folks figured out after making mistakes and understanding that there must be a better way to get things done.
- Vaccines are safe, necessary, and they work.
- Sleep is good. For everyone. Learn to help your baby sleep through the night by the time they are four to six months old.
- Three years is not a magic age at which every kid is potty trained. Some take a little longer. The main potty training mistake you can make is to push your kids when they aren’t ready.
- Some kids continue to wet the bed at night, even after they are potty trained.
- Don’t give aspirin to kids, even teens. It is a risk factor for getting Reye syndrome.
- If you still have them, safely dispose of mercury thermometers and syrup of ipecac.
- Experts don’t recommend that you use hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds any more. You can usually substitute soap and water instead.
- “Starve a fever; feed a cold” is an Old Wives’ Tale, like not drinking milk when your kids have a fever or diarrhea. It is not a real thing. If your child is sick and hungry, let them eat their regular diet. If they are sick and don’t want to eat, encourage them to at least drink a lot of fluids, and add bland foods, until they are ready to eat more.
- A green or yellow runny nose almost certainly means that your child has an infection, but unless it has been lingering for weeks or your child has a persistent high fever, then it is likely a viral infection that won’t respond to antibiotics.
- When your doctor prescribes antibiotics for your kids, think about whether the prescription is because your sick child needs it or because the doctor thinks you want it. Consider asking if your child might get better without antibiotics.
- Don’t force kids to “clean their plates” or eat foods that they really dislike. Picky eaters who are forced to eat are probably more likely to grow up to be picky adult eaters.
- Most kids, unless they are missing out on one or more food groups or have a chronic medical problem, probably don’t need a daily vitamin.
- Don’t just ask your kids if they are being bullied. Also ask if they ever bully or see kids getting bullied. Someone is doing the bullying.
- All kids are different. Don’t compare them. Or at least don’t compare them too much. But talk to your pediatrician if your child’s growth and development really seems off-track compared to most other children.
- Some kids are harder to discipline than others. Try something else or get help if what you are doing isn’t working.
- Taking extra unnecessary risks, like hiding a loaded gun in the house, not having a fence around your backyard swimming pool, letting your kids ride a bike without a helmet, or letting them ride an ATV, etc., will increase the chances that your kids get hurt. Think about safety.
- Not every kid wants to play or is going to be good at team sports.
- Being on a “select” sports team probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. The selection process is just as likely to involve the fact that you can pay to be on the team and take extra lessons or classes, as it is to about your child’s skill level.
- For perspective, always remember that no matter how good or talented you think your child is, there is always another kid playing at a much higher level. That’s why so few end up playing in college or at higher levels.
- At some point, you child might say “I hate you!” Be ready, and understand that it almost certainly has nothing to do with you.
- The ‘free range kids’ movement is the opposite extreme to ‘helicopter parenting.’ Don’t fall for parenting fads.
And don’t believe everything you hear or read about parenting. Kids do come with instructions – good instructions, you just have to know when and where to get them. And who to trust.
Otherwise you could end up making all of the same mistakes that all of the rest of us have already made.
For More Information on Things Parents Should Know
- How to Do Research About Vaccines on the Internet
- Developmental Milestones by Ages and Stages
- Common Childhood Transitions
- CDC – Positive Parenting Tips
- At Long Last: Sleep Training Tools For the Exhausted Parent
- AAP – How to Tell When Your Child is Ready for Potty Training
- What Happened to Ipecac Syrup?
- Mercury Thermometers
- What is 1-800-222-1222?
- Popular Myths about Parenting and Pediatrics
- CDC – Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer
- AAP – No More ” Clean Plate Club”
- Picky Eating
- Tips to Tempt Even the Pickiest of Eaters
- Alternatives to Vitamins for Picky Eaters
- Before You Buy Children’s Vitamins
- How to Talk About Bullying
- AAP – Disciplining Your Child
- Safety Tips
- When Did Competitive Sports Take Over American Childhood?
- Estimated probability of competing in college athletics
- Probability of Competing Beyond High School
- “I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!” When Kids Say Hurtful Things
Last Updated on December 14, 2016 by Vincent Iannelli, MD
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