04 July 2024

Air pollution

Air pollution is one of the greatest threats to children’s health. Ninety-nine per cent of people in the world live in places where the air is considered unhealthy. When children breathe toxic air, it harms their health and jeopardizes their future. For children to grow up healthy, they need clean, safe air. Here are some ways you can reduce air…, Air pollution: Fast facts, What is air pollution?, When harmful substances (pollutants) – particles, gases, or matter – are released into the air and reduce its quality, the air is polluted. When it is very polluted, we can see a gray or yellow haze., Where does air pollution come from?, Most air pollution comes from sources like power plants and factories that burn fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas); road traffic; waste management; excessive fertilizer and pesticide use and burning of agricultural waste; coal and wood burning stoves; and wildfires., How does air pollution impact our health?, Air pollution is directly linked with diseases that kill. It can cause serious health and environmental hazards to people and other living beings. Pollutants in the air contain particles known as PM 2.5. These particles are about the size of one-thirtieth the width of a human hair and can be carried across thousands of miles. PM 2.5 can pass into…, How do I know if the air is polluted?, Air pollution levels can vary depending on the place and time of day. Check if air quality information is available on weather apps or local news for where you live. Does your neighbourhood have operating factories, power plants or congested traffic nearby? If so, then you are likely being exposed to high levels of air pollution. Air pollution…, Children and air pollution, Why are children more at risk?, As children are growing, their developing lungs and brains makes them especially vulnerable to air pollution. Their immune systems are weaker than adults, making them more vulnerable to viruses, bacteria and other infections. This increases the risk of respiratory infection and reduces their ability to fight it. Young children breathe faster than…, How does air pollution impact children?, Air pollution causes both immediate and long-term health effects in children that can be irreversible. Air pollution is linked to respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. It can exacerbate underlying health conditions and harm children’s physical and cognitive development. As a result, other areas of children’s lives can be…, What symptoms of exposure to air pollution should I look out for? , Here are some symptoms that can result from exposure to air pollution. Talk to your doctor if a member of your family experience any of these symptoms.   Dry/irritated eyes, headache, fatigue, allergies or shortness of breath. In infants, look out for signs of exertion while breathing.   People with asthma might experience more severe asthmatic…, How to protect children from air pollution, Air pollution is a global problem and requires action not just by families and individuals, but by communities and governments. However, there are many things we can do to reduce our exposure to air pollution and reduce its impact on children. Here are some key steps you can take with your family:, Protecting children from air pollution outdoors, Monitor the air quality information where you live on a daily basis and try to adjust your family’s behaviour and exposure levels accordingly. Try to reduce the time spent in areas where pollution is high, such as near or around areas of severe traffic congestion or sources of industrial pollution. Travelling at times of the day when air pollution…, Protecting children from air pollution indoors, Use cleaner fuels and technologies to cook, heat and light your home. If possible, choose electricity, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, biogas or solar stoves or ovens. Ensure the cooking area is well-ventilated by opening windows and using exhaust fans to allow heat and fumes to escape. If it’s hard to ventilate your kitchen, consider…, Help create change for cleaner air, Air pollution is a public health emergency and unless governments and businesses take concrete steps to reduce it, children will continue to suffer the most. You can play an important role in raising awareness of the problem and the solutions. Encourage and support your children to learn about and participate in environmental activities. For…
04 July 2024

Talking to your child about climate change

Climate change is happening and nearly every child in the world will be affected. Talking about climate change with our own children can feel hard for many parents. It’s natural to want to protect kids from harm and worry. But if your child is a certain age, chances are they are already hearing about climate change, whether at school, online or…, 1. Do your homework, No one has all the answers about climate change and it’s okay if you don’t either. There are many reliable resources available online including talks, videos and articles that can help you brush up on the science. NASA has some great child-friendly resources on the topic. Speak with other parents to find out how they approach the topic with their…, 2. Listen, To start the conversation about climate change with your child, find out what they already know and how they feel about the topic. You might be surprised by how much your child already knows and can express. Use it as a chance to listen to their fears and hopes for the planet. Give them your full attention and don’t dismiss or try to minimize any…, 3. Use simple science, You know your child best, so make sure the information is appropriate for them. A good starting point can be to find ways to relate climate change to their daily lives and explore the basic facts together. For example: “Humans are burning fossil fuels like coal and oil to run cars, fly planes and light homes. These all release greenhouse gases…, 4. Go outside!, Try to expose your child to nature as much as possible. Encouraging them to play outside helps nurture their enjoyment of and respect for nature. When you’re outside together pause and point out interesting sights, whether it’s a tree, a cloud, a cobweb or a bird. The simple act of slowing down and taking the time to appreciate nature can help…, 5. Focus on solutions, For every problem you discuss, try to show a solution. Explore with your child examples of people who are working on ways to address climate change. Discuss positive and inspiring stories you see on the news or in your own community. Talk about what steps you are taking as a family, such as reducing waste in your home, saving water, recycling, or…, 6. Empower action, Young people around the world are taking climate action into their own hands and to the doorstep of governments . Others are building new ways to use energy more efficiently, sharing solutions on social media and walking in weekly climate marches. Let your child know that many young people are standing up for our planet and they can too. If they…
12 June 2024

10 ways to create healthy digital habits at home

Raising kids in the digital age isn’t easy. It can be tough to keep up with the pace of emerging technologies and to understand how to balance the risks and opportunities that come with them. We spoke to digital parenting expert Dr. Jacqueline Nesi for her top tips on fostering a healthy relationship with technology as a family., Communicate early and often about the role of technology in your family’s life., 1. Ask your child questions about their devices the same way you would any other activity they’re engaged in. Find out what they like about them, what they don’t like about them, how often they use them and what’s working. 2. Discuss the risks of technology use. Talk to your children honestly about concerns you may have, such as devices getting in…, Set boundaries that make sense for your family., 4. Make “yes” and “no” rules. “Yes” rules are things your child should do. How do you want them to act online? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What does “healthy” technology use look like in your family?  “No” rules, on the other hand, are things you don’t want them to do (like bullying others) or things they shouldn’t do for…, Be aware of your children’s use of devices., 7. Explore technology together. Try co-viewing and co-use with children of all ages. This simply means watching or using technology together with your children. This could include watching a show together and talking to them about it. For an older child, have them show you what they’re up to online – what they’re interested in, what apps they like…, Model healthy habits for your children., 9. Act as a team. It’s important as parents to be aware of how (and how often) we’re using our own devices – and that’s hard! But joining with your children in establishing healthy habits and boundaries is a good opportunity to step outside of the “me versus you” dynamic that so often parents fall into with their children, and instead work to…
28 May 2024

Talking about periods at home

Periods are a fact of life, but not every parent feels comfortable talking about it with their children. Not knowing what to expect during their first period may leave girls feeling anxious or scared and with a lot of unanswered questions. Girls need to know that menstruation is normal and that they can rely on you and other trusted adults for…, Why you should talk about periods, Discussing periods can help your child feel comfortable with her body and enable her to look after her health. It can make navigating periods easier by helping her manage any physical or emotional symptoms and prevent feelings of shame or embarrassment. Discussing periods can also help you build a stronger bond with your daughter., Starting the conversation, Ask your child if they already know about periods and how they feel about it. Have any of her friends started having periods and talked about it? This is a good opportunity to correct any inaccurate information she may have heard. Stick to the facts Use clear language when describing periods. Focusing on the physiology will help you reinforce that…, When should you start the conversation about periods?, While most girls get their first period at about 12 years of age, some girls will start menstruating as young as eight. It is best to start the conversation early and have an ongoing, open dialogue about physical and mental changes related to periods. Starting the conversation about menstruation before her first period is the best way to make sure…, Healthy habits and hygiene, Practising good menstrual health and hygiene during periods can prevent infections, reduce odours and help your daughter stay comfortable. Here are some things you can tell her: Wash normally during periods to avoid the risk of infections. Keep the genital area clean by washing outside the vagina and bottom everyday. Use water only to rinse the…, When to seek help, If periods are affecting your daughter’s daily life or she is experiencing unexpected changes in her period, it may be a sign that she needs to get help. You should seek professional medical support if: her period is so painful that she can’t stand or walk she bleeds more than usual she stops bleeding for a long time she bleeds between periods If…, Engaging with others, Part of addressing period shame is normalizing girls’ health. Talking to others who are close to your daughter or are part of her daily life can help them support her when she needs it most. Talk to boys Many boys are left out of period knowledge and don’t know how to support their female friends and siblings during menstruation. Some might even…
15 May 2024

How to keep your child safe online

As your child grows, it is likely they are spending more and more time online. There are so many positive things about being online like staying connected with friends and family, pursuing interests, and being part of communities. But it is not always a safe and positive experience for children. Here's how you can help your child maximize all the…, 1. Set clear ground rules, Have honest conversations with your children about who they communicate with and how, and who can see what they post online.  Explain that anything that goes online – pictures, videos, comments, things they share with others and what others post and share with them and about them – leaves behind a trail of information about them. To make sure they…, 2. Use technology to protect them, Check that your child’s device is always updated and running the latest software, and that privacy settings are on and configured to minimize data collection so that people don’t see any information that you don’t want them to see. Help your child learn to keep personal information private. If your privacy settings are not secure, anyone can see…, 3. Spend time with them online, Create opportunities for your child to have safe and positive online interactions with friends, family and you. Connecting with others can be an excellent opportunity for you to model kindness and empathy in virtual interactions. Help your child recognize and avoid misinformation and disinformation, age-inappropriate content and content that can…, 4. Model healthy online habits, Promote positive online behaviour by practicing it yourself. Be mindful of the example you set and what you share online about your child, including their photos and videos. Encourage your child to be kind online and to support friends and family by sending positive messages or emojis. If they have classes online, encourage them to be respectful…, 5. Let them have fun and express themselves, Spending time online can be a great opportunity for your children to be creative, learn, use their voices to share their views and support causes that are important to them. Encourage your child to use resources on the internet to help them get up and get moving, like online exercise videos for children and video games that require physical…
04 October 2023

How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way

There comes a time when every parent struggles with how best to discipline their child. Whether dealing with a screaming toddler or an angry teen, it can be hard to control your temper. No parent wants to find themselves in such a situation and the bottom line is that shouting and physical violence never help. Thankfully, there are other, more…, Why positive discipline?, “Parents don't want to shout or hit their kids. We do it because we're stressed and don't see another way,” says Professor Cluver. The evidence is clear: shouting and hitting simply do not work and can do more harm than good in the long run. Repeated shouting and hitting can even adversely impact a child’s entire life. The continued “toxic stress…, Engaging with younger children, One-on-one time can be fun – and it’s completely free! “You can copy their expressions, bang spoons against pots, or sing together,” adds Professor Cluver. “There’s amazing research showing that playing with your children boosts their brain development.”, Engaging with older children, Like younger children, teenagers seek praise and want to be thought of as good. One-on-one time is still important to them. “They love it if you dance around the room with them or engage in a conversation about their favourite singer,” says Professor Cluver. “They may not always show it, but they do. And, it's an effective way of building a…, What you can do in stressful situations , Every family goes through stressful times together. Here are some tips that can help parents get through such times: 1. Pause We all know the stress when we feel our child is being difficult. At moments like these, being present and stepping back is a simple and useful tactic. Hit the “pause button”, as Professor Cluver calls it. “Take five deep…
04 October 2023

How to talk to your children about conflict and war

When conflict or war makes the headlines, it can cause feelings such as fear, sadness, anger and anxiety wherever you live. Children always look to their parents for a sense of safety and security – even more so in times of crisis. Here are some tips on how to approach the conversation with your child and to provide them with support and comfort.…, 1. Find out what they know and how they feel, Choose a time and place when you can bring it up naturally and your child is more likely to feel comfortable talking freely, such as during a family meal. Try to avoid talking about the topic just before bedtime. A good starting point is to ask your child what they know and how they are feeling. Some children might know little about what is…, 2. Keep it calm and age-appropriate, Children have a right to know what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. You know your child best. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety. It is normal if you feel sad or worried about what is happening as well. But keep in mind that…, 3. Spread compassion, not stigma, Conflict can often bring with it prejudice and discrimination, whether against a people or country. When talking to your children, avoid labels like “bad people” or “evil” and instead use it as an opportunity to encourage compassion, such as for the families forced to flee their homes. Even if a conflict is happening in a distant country, it can…, 4. Focus on the helpers, It’s important for children to know that people are helping each other with acts of courage and kindness. Find positive stories, such as the first responders assisting people, or young people calling for peace. The sense of doing something, no matter how small, can often bring great comfort. See if your child would like to participate in taking…, 5. Close conversations with care, As you end your conversation, it’s important to make sure that you are not leaving your child in a state of distress. Try to assess their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing. Remind them that you care and that you’re there to listen and support…, 6. Continue to check in, As news of the conflict continues, you should continue to check in with your child to see how they’re doing. How are they feeling? Do they have any new questions or things they would like to talk about with you? If your child seems worried or anxious about what’s happening, keep an eye out for any changes in how they behave or feel, such as…, 7. Limit the flood of news, Be mindful of how exposed your children are to the news while it's full of alarming headlines and upsetting images. Consider switching off the news around younger children. With older children, you could use it as an opportunity to discuss how much time they spend consuming news and what news sources they trust. Also consider how you talk about…, 8. Take care of yourself, You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping, too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know that you are calm and in control. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people. Be mindful of how you’re consuming news: Try…