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…
13 October 2023

How to teach your kids handwashing

One of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways you can keep your child safe from disease is to get them to wash their hands frequently. Here are some tips on how to turn handwashing into a healthy habit for life:  , 1. Explain the benefits of handwashing, Let your child know that washing hands can keep them safe from bacteria and viruses that can make them and others around them sick. Teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. Explain to them that regular handwashing is as important as brushing your teeth or eating a healthy meal.  , 2. Demonstrate the correct steps of handwashing, Explain that to eliminate all traces of infection-causing bacteria on your hands, a quick scrub and rinse isn’t enough. Here’s a step-by-step guide for effective handwashing: Step 1: Wet hands with running water Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including back of hands, between fingers and under…, 3. How long should you wash hands?, Hands should be washed with soap for at least 20-30 seconds. An easy way to time this is by singing the full “happy birthday” song, twice. The same goes if using hand sanitizer: Use a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub it into your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure full coverage. Remember: hand sanitizer can be toxic if…, 4. Set the times they should be washing their hands, Your child should wash their hands frequently throughout the day. Here are some of the times you should always wash your hands: When hands are visibly dirty  Before and after eating After using the toilet After touching animals and pets After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing  , 5. Turn it into a fun family activity, Here are some ways you can help children wash their hands by making handwashing easier and fun for them:, Did you know?, 1. Is warm or cold water better?, You can use any temperature of water to wash your hands. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses – as long as you use soap!  , 2. Is drying hands important?, Germs spread more easily from wet skin than from dry skin, so drying your hands completely is an important step. Paper towels or clean cloths are the most effective way to remove germs without spreading them to other surfaces.  , 3. Soap and water or hand sanitizer – which is better?, In general, both handwashing with soap and water and hand sanitizer, when done correctly, are highly effective at killing most germs and pathogens. But if your hands look dirty, you should wash them with soap and water. Although hand sanitizer is often more convenient when you are outside of the home, it is less effective on visibly dirty hands.…
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…
09 August 2023

How to teach your child to love reading

A love of reading opens the door to adventures, learning new things and a whole host of key language skills such as speech development and vocabulary building. Spending time with books also creates special moments for you to bond with your child and enjoy each other’s company. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day with a book is enough to spark your curious…, Start right away, Reading to your newborn helps to give them the best start in life. Babies learn language from adults who repeat and read words to them. When you read to your little one, talk about the characters and objects in the book or the sounds the animals make. Hearing your voice helps give meaning to the letters and pictures they are seeing. As you read,…, Model what a good reader looks like, It is important for children to see reading as something fun and pleasurable to do rather than a difficult task. What better way to teach this than to show them the ropes yourself! If your children see you reading often, it is more likely to encourage them. This will also help to promote time away from screens. If you have been away from reading…, Take turns, As your child grows older, take turns reading out loud to each other. If you have an early reader, this can be as much as asking your child to point out letters and words he recognizes. Next, take turns reading sentences. As his abilities grow, you can take turns reading pages and eventually chapters. As you read together, ask questions about what…, Listen to your child, As your little one grows, pay attention to her interests. If she is particularly drawn to a particular topic, like dinosaurs, try to find children’s books about that subject. This will help to reinforce that books are tools for learning more about the things we care about and she will be more likely to read if the subject matter is her favourite…, Make it a routine, Making reading an enjoyable part of your child’s life starts with incorporating books into your daily routine. Create a special reading time before bed or while taking public transportation. While you are together, make sure to limit distractions like mobile phones and television. Your time should be all about each other! Part of learning to enjoy…, Reading milestones, While every child is different, here are some of the milestones you may observe as your child's reading skills develop: Birth – 18 months Understands some simple phrases Looks at books and tries to turn pages Imitates speech At around 1 year can say one or more words 18 months – 3 years Can say 250 – 350 words at around 2 years and 800 – 1,000…
28 July 2023

Heat wave safety tips

Heat waves are anything but fun in the sun. Extreme heat and humidity can be extremely uncomfortable and pose serious health risks, especially for infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly. Without taking the proper precautions, extreme heat can lead to heat stroke and even worse, fatality. As a result of climate change, heat waves are…, Heat wave facts, Heatwave facts: A girl stands under the hot sun What is a heat wave?  Heat waves happen when the temperature is higher than normal for several days in a row. Humidity can cause it to feel much hotter. What causes a heat wave?  Heat waves result from warm air being trapped in the atmosphere and are a natural weather phenomenon. Heat waves are…, What to do in a heat wave, How to prepare for a heatwave: A girl stands next to a fan Be prepared Know how hot and humid it is going to get today, this week and this month to help plan outside activities. Keep an emergency kit at home that contains oral rehydration salt (ORS) packets, a thermometer, water bottles, towels or cloths to wet for cooling, a handheld fan or…, Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, How to recognize symptoms of heatstroke: A girl looks confused as a caregiver supports her Severe symptoms of heat stress require urgent care.  If a family member is presenting any of the severe symptoms below you should call for an ambulance or arrange for another form of transport to a health facility immediately. Trust your instincts and don’t…, Symptoms of heat-related illness, Milder symptoms - treat at home Severe symptoms – take to hospital immediately General Dry lips/sticky mouth Excessive thirst Excessive sweating Weakness /dizziness Nausea/vomiting Small blisters/rashes Heat rashes Mild fever Nosebleeds Cramps, usually in arms and legs Confusion/not responding clearly /seizures/coma/not waking up (MOST SEVERE)…, How to treat heatstroke and heat-related illnesses, How to treat heat related illness: A girl lies on the floor while a caregiver provides water Take the following steps to help your loved one cool, rehydrate and recover:, 1. Cool and rush to health facility if severe, If a family member is experiencing severe symptoms of heat-related illnesses, it is important to cool first and transport second.   Help the person sit or lie down in a cool shaded area with good ventilation. Close curtains to create more shade. Turn on a fan or air conditioner if available. Apply wet towels to the skin at head, neck, armpits and…, 2. Reduce temperature, Move the person into a cool area if not done so already. Close curtains to create more shade. Turn on a fan or air conditioner if available.    Apply wet towels or cool water to the body, particularly at head, neck, armpits and groin. Keep changing the towels or dipping them in cool water every few minutes to provide cool water for the body. If…, 3. Rehydrate, Infants under six months: Breastfeed to rehydrate the infant. Encourage mother to also drink more water, especially if breastfeeding.  Older infants and children: Given your infant or child water in small amounts to help them become used to it.  If the child has sweated a lot or is sweating a lot, add some Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) to the water…