There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, but research has shown there are things you can do to increase your chances of raising a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted child. According to experts, a few of the most important things you can do to help your child include:
- Making sure your child has a healthy diet—Today, 1 in 3 children in the US are obese, which is closely linked to serious diseases later in life. Healthy eating habits should begin at birth, with parents limiting a child’s access to processed foods. Research shows that children fed healthier diets early on have slightly higher IQs, while those with heavier junk food diets have slightly lower IQ.
- Reading to your child at least three times a week—Many studies have shown that children who were read to (even newborns) have a larger vocabulary than other kids their age. There’s also a direct link between how many words a baby hears each day and language skills. Experts say to try to aim for at least three times a week.
- Limiting television—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children don’t even start watching TV until they turn two years old, and after that their time in front of the tube should be limited to two hours or less a day. Research shows that children who watch four hours or more of TV per day have lower grades, read less, and exercise less.
- Being consistent—Experts all agree: Children need structure. Setting mealtimes, nap and bed times, and rules not only lets them know what to expect, but also makes them feel safe and secure.
- Setting a good example—Who’s your child’s number one role model? You! Parenting experts say that what you do is even more important than what you say. So if you don’t want your kids to hit one another, then you shouldn’t hit them. The same goes for any other bad behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and drugs, yelling and being disrespectful to others.
- Spend regular time together as a family—Spending time together, even just during mealtime, has many proven benefits. It increases communication and bonding with your children. Studies show that children and teens spend consistent time with their parents do better academically and have lower rates of drug, tobacco, and alcohol use.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- While there is no such thing as a perfect parent, there are things you can do to help raise a healthy and happy child.
- Eating a healthy diet and reading to your child often can boost your child’s health and intellect.
- Children need consistency so they feel safe and secure on a daily basis.
- The ultimate role model for your child is you, so watch your words and your actions carefully.