31 January 2024

Road safety tips

Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in children and adolescents aged 5-19 years worldwide. Tragically, many of these deaths were preventable. Here are some ways your family can stay safe while out and about. Jump to: Tips for younger children Tips for teens Tips for children with disabilities Crossing the road safely Take action…, Road safety tips for younger children, It’s never too early to start teaching your children about road safety. Here are some road rules to help little ones keep safety top of mind. 1. Traffic is dangerous Explain to your little one that while cars on the road may be fun to look at, it’s important to keep a safe distance. Try taking your child outside and talking to them about it while…, Be a smart cycler, Teach your children to ride their bicycle with traffic, use appropriate hand signals, wear a well-fitting helmet, use bicycle lanes where available, and ensure that their bicycle has working brakes, a reflector and a light. Houda Al-Malik, 26, and her brother Sajad Al-Faraji, 16, leave school in Vienna's 13th district, in Austria., Road safety tips for teens, Teens are driven to seek more thrills than children and adults. While this is a natural part of their development, it can lead to more dangerous risk taking. Talk to your teen about these safety tips to help them make smart choices when you are not around to supervise. 1. Be alert and watch out for hazards As tempting as it may be to look at a…, Road safety tips for children with disabilities, You know your child and their environment best. As you teach your child about road safety, consider any additional needs they might have. For example:  Children with hearing impairments may not hear the noise of traffic – horns, cars, motorbikes etc – so teach them to watch for traffic very carefully.  Children with autism, behavioural and…, How to cross the road safely in 5 steps, 1. Find a safe place to cross Make sure you can see in all directions and that drivers can see you, too. If there is a designated crossing area, use it and explain to your child how they work. 2. Stop Leave a safe amount of distance between yourself and the road. 3. Look both ways Make sure to take your time looking around for any oncoming traffic…, Take action for road safety, By speaking to your local officials, your child's school and community groups about road safety you can raise awareness about effective measures that help reduce injuries and save lives. These include:   Enact and enforce legislation to keep urban traffic speeds on residential streets and on school routes where traffic and children come into…
29 November 2023

3 ways to help motivate your teen

Is your teen struggling with motivation? Dr. Lisa Damour, psychologist, mother and best-selling author, shares three ways you can help your teen feel motivated. Watch the video or read the tips below, 3 ways to help motivate your teen, Just like everybody else, at times, teens have to do things that they're not in the mood for. When this happens, there are three ways adults can help teens to feel motivated., 1. Offer choices, It's nice to have options. Research shows that teenagers are more likely to feel motivated when they are given options for how to tackle the work at hand. For example, be open to your teen's ideas about how to solve problems, complete tasks or practice new skills. And, when possible, be flexible about when and where teens do the things we ask of…, 2. Praise effort, Cheer your teenager on. Done right, praising teenagers can help them to feel motivated. Our praise should be sincere. And it should celebrate effort, not talent. For example, saying, “I see how hard you worked”, or “I see how much care you put into this”, or “I'm impressed by your stamina,” will build more motivation than saying, “Wow, you're…, 3. Get creative with rewards, Get creative with rewards because everybody needs encouragement. Just as adults don't enjoy every item on our to-do list, teens sometimes struggle to get going on the things that they need to do. At these times, consider the value of a creative reward. You might suggest that your teenager take enjoyable 5 minute breaks between 25 minute periods of…
24 November 2023

How to talk to your children about hate speech

Hate speech has a long history, but the growth of online communications means that it can now spread far and fast. Whether in person or online, almost all children and young people will encounter hate speech at some time. As a parent, it’s important to talk to your child about hate speech, to help them recognize it and know what to do when they…, Hate speech facts, What is hate speech?, Hate speech can be described as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour that attacks or discriminates against a person or group’s identity, such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation. Hate speech can also include other “identity factors”, like language, economic…, How are children affected by hate speech?, Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to hate speech, both online and in person. When children hear or read hate speech aimed at them directly or a part of their identity – such as their race, colour or gender – it can make them feel like there is something different or wrong about them. This can impact their self-esteem and can…, Hate speech vs free speech, Freedom of expression is a human right and tackling hate speech protects this right. It’s possible to disagree with or criticize an individual or group without threatening their well-being and safety. Hate speech limits freedom of expression as those targeted by hateful language do not feel safe expressing themselves freely., What is trolling?, “Trolling” is when someone posts or comments online to provoke a reaction from others. Trolling aims to disrupt, get attention and cause distress. It becomes hate speech when the actions promote hatred and discrimination against a person or group’s identity, such as their gender, race or sexual orientation. People involved in trolling will often…, How to talk to your children about hate speech, Conversations about issues like hate, racism, sexism and xenophobia can be uncomfortable for many parents. But it is important to try to create a safe space for your child to be able to speak to you and share anything that is on their mind.  Conversations will look different for every family, but remember: You know your child best. Use age-…, 1. Educating your child about hate speech, Explain to your child that everyone has a right to be safe in society and treated with dignity and respect. Hate speech is always wrong and it’s on all of us to reject it. Explore together what hate speech is, so your child can identify it, whether it happens to them or someone else. Here are some questions you can explore together: What do you…, 2. Hate speech online, The Internet and social media enable us to connect with friends and family, pursue interests and be part of communities. Sadly, the same digital tools and platforms can also enable hateful content to be created easily, often anonymously, and shared widely fast. Hate speech has the potential to spread online to a global audience and can resurface…, 3. Talk openly and frequently to your children, The more you talk to your children about topics like hate speech, racism and xenophobia, the more comfortable they will be to come to you if they experience it. Find opportunities to talk about these topics in your daily routine. For example, if something relevant comes up on TV, you could ask your child what they know about the topic and what…, 4. Stand against hate speech, Remember that you are the example that your child follows and be mindful of your own words and actions, including online. Take every opportunity to reject hate speech and stand up for every person's right to be treated with dignity and respect. Explain to your child that if we witness hate speech, we can show support to the person or people…, 5. Embrace diversity, Explain to your child that we aren’t all the same and that is a good thing. The world would be a very boring place if everyone was the same. Encouraging openness and curiosity can help children to notice differences and appreciate them. It fosters conversation, understanding and empathy with people who are different from them. > Read: Talking…, What should I do if my child experiences hate speech?, All children have the right to protection from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse. Any incidents of hate speech need to be taken very seriously. Depending on the situation, you may need to report it to your child’s school, to the platform it happened on or to the police.  , Listen and reassure, If your child has experienced hate speech, the first step is to give them time to explain what happened. Listen carefully and tell them that you are glad they came to you. Focus on making them feel heard and supported. Your child is more likely to open up to you if you stay calm about what you hear. Be clear that hate speech is wrong and that your…, Hate speech at your child’s school, If the hate speech was from a student at your child’s school, record the evidence if possible and report it to the school. Discuss with the school authorities how they will protect your child’s right to be safe, as well as what consequences there will be for the sender of the hate speech. Discipline should always be immediate, non-violent and…, Hate speech from someone outside your child’s school, If the hate speech is from someone outside your child’s school, document any evidence and consider reporting it to the police. Don’t hesitate to speak to the police if you have any concerns for your child’s safety.  , Hate speech online, Record the evidence and report it to the social media platform. Check what tools are available on the platform/s to block or restrict the sender. Here are reporting and safety resources for many popular platforms: Facebook Instagram Kik Snapchat TikTok Tumblr WeChat WhatsApp X (formerly Twitter) YouTube  
03 November 2023

How to recognize signs of distress in children

Children have different reactions to adverse events in their environment. Culture influences the ways in which we express emotions. In some cultures, for example, it is not appropriate to show strong emotions like crying loudly, while in others it is widely accepted.  Some signs of distress may not be so obvious. Here are some of the signs of…, Common reactions to stress in children, Many of these reactions only last for a short time, and are normal reactions to stressful events. If these reactions last for a prolonged period of time, the child may need specialist support.   Age Reaction 0-3 years Clinging to their caregivers more than normal Regressing to former (younger) behaviours Changes in sleeping and eating patterns…, Emotional check-ins, To check-in emotionally is to ask children “how they are” in a direct or indirect way. One check-in method is to ask your child to draw or paint a picture. Ask them to tell you more about the picture, what they have drawn, or why they used a specific colour, for example. This may help some children talk about how they feel, whereas other children…, Activities to reduce stress and support your child’s well-being, These activities can be done with your child to help reduce stress and provide them with positive coping strategies that support their well-being. These activities are also beneficial for you and can be done with your child together.  Belly breathing Often when we are stressed our breathing becomes shallow, high in our chests, and we forget to…
26 October 2023

Easy, affordable and healthy eating tips

Ready meals and processed foods may look like a quick and low-cost way to feed the family, but there are many convenient, affordable and healthy alternatives. Here are five ways to help feed your children a varied, nutritious diet that will support their growth and development, all while building healthy eating habits., 1. Keep up fruit and vegetable intake, Purchasing, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging for some families. But it’s important to ensure children get as much fruit and vegetables in their diet as possible. As well as being eaten fresh, fruits and vegetables can be frozen and will retain most of their nutrients and flavour. Using fresh vegetables to cook large batches…, 2. Swap in healthy dried or canned alternatives when fresh produce is not available, Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it is not available there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare. Canned beans and chickpeas, which provide an abundance of nutrients, can be stored for months or even years, and can be included in meals in many ways. Canned oily fish such as sardines, mackerel…, 3. Build up a stock of healthy snacks, Children often need to eat a snack or two during the day to keep them going. Rather than giving kids sweets or salty snacks, opt for healthier options like nuts, cheese, yoghurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruits, boiled eggs, or other locally available healthy options. These foods are nutritious, more filling, and help build…, 4. Limit highly processed foods , While using fresh produce may not always be possible, try to limit the amount of highly processed foods in your shopping basket. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. If you do purchase processed foods, look at the label and try to choose healthier options containing less of these…, 5. Make cooking and eating a fun and meaningful part of your family routine, Cooking and eating together is a great way to create healthy routines, strengthen family bonds and have fun. Wherever you can, involve your children in food preparation – small children can help with washing or sorting food items while older children can take on more complex tasks and help to set the table. ,  Food hygiene tips , Good hygiene is always important when handling food to prevent any food-borne illnesses.  Wash unpackaged produce, such as fruit and vegetables, thoroughly under running water.  Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food. User separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish. Cook…
06 October 2023

Teen mental health and social media

If you have a teen who seems attached to a screen all day, you’re not alone. Social media is a big part of daily life for many teens. While there are so many benefits to being online and connected, a lot of parents struggle with how to navigate some of the risks and worry about how their children’s well-being can be affected. We spoke with three…, 1. What have been your main worries about your teenager using social media?, PAM: I think my biggest concern is my children’s belief that they are immune to digital distraction – that somehow they can study, reply to a girlfriend’s text and watch a movie, all while handing in a good essay on Napoleon. The endless pings and dings that follow them drive me to distraction, so I know it is affecting them too!  I also worry…, 2. What benefits of social media have you seen?, ANDREW: Probably the main benefit I see is connection. We are connected a lot more to people – connected to family, to friends, to people in other states and overseas. That's massive because these are people that we wouldn't connect with at all otherwise.  Exposure to lots of other information is another positive, although it can be a negative as…, 3. How have you talked about social media use and mental health concerns with your teen?, LISA: I’ve talked with my teens about making sure that, on balance, social media makes their lives better, not worse. I encourage them to reflect on why they turn to social media when they do and how they feel while using it. I’ve also talked with my teens about the strong connection between sleep and mental health and, accordingly, the critical…, 4. How do you approach social media use in your family?  , ANDREW: I try to limit wherever I can. I actually try with the older ones to get them to limit the amount of time they spend on devices themselves, rather than it just coming from me, because my 16-year-old is not necessarily going to listen to a great degree. As a parent, you can put a whole lot of different barriers and things in place, but I…, 5. What has worked well for your family?, LISA: As parents, it has worked for us to hold ourselves to the same rules we make for our teens. When our teens have asked to have their phones in their rooms, we’ve been able to say, “Having tech in the bedroom – even during the day – undermines the quality of sleep you get in that room. We keep our tech out of the bedroom to protect our sleep…, 6. What would you do differently?, LISA: I wish I had talked earlier with our older teen about the algorithms that drive what shows up in social media feeds. Teens need to understand that everything they do when online – what they look at, what they like, what they comment on, what they scroll past – loads into a powerful database that determines what they’ll see next. The…, 7. What advice do you give parents of teens who aren’t on social media yet?, ANDREW: It does depend on the actual platform, but by far the biggest thing that I tell parents of kids who aren't on social media yet is to be aware that whatever you post or put online is there for everyone to see. Yes, you can have different security settings, but people can access these things. Just be really aware of that and obviously that's…, 8. What do you tell parents who struggle to get their teens to disconnect from social media?, ANDREW: A lot of kids these days put their hands up and say: “Well, if I'm not on a screen, then what do I do?” They are so used to going to a device as a default. So rather than just saying “get off” or “stop”, I think it’s important parents engage with them and teach them what they can do when they're not on a device. Give them some ideas, play…, About the experts , Andrew Greenfield is a consultant child and educational psychologist based in Sydney, Australia. He also works as a consultant to schools and is a specialist commentator in the media. He is the father of three children.    Lisa Damour is a psychologist , best-selling author, New York Times contributor and mother of two teenage daughters.  Pam…
26 September 2023

21 learning activities for babies and toddlers

Curious about what to do with your baby all day? Play is an important part of your child’s learning and growth – it's how they explore their environment, practice developing skills and bond with their caregivers (that’s you!). As your baby grows, playtime will evolve based on what developmental skills they are working on. Ready to get started? We…, Activities for 2-month-olds, Tap along Place your baby on their back and sing them a song. As you sing, tap the bottoms of their feet in time with the song. How your baby benefits: This game is great for developing listening skills. Your little one will delight at hearing your voice and the tapping adds a new way to experience singing songs together. Chit chat Face your baby…, Activities for 4-month-olds, Story time Read and look at baby books together. Point to the objects, animals or plants on the pages and name them. How your baby benefits: Making time to read together promotes bonding, language skills and visual development. Texture talk Give your baby different fabrics to feel and use words to describe them such as “smooth” or “rough.” How…, Activities for 6-month-olds, Let’s get rolling! Place your baby on their back or tummy on a safe surface and place their favourite toy or another baby safe object just out of reach. Encourage them to roll over to reach for the toy. How your baby benefits: This game helps support your baby’s gross motor skill development by working on a big milestone like rolling over. Go…, Activities for 9-month-olds, Copy cat Observe what your baby does and copy their actions. This lets your little one take the lead! How your baby benefits: By showing interest and placing importance in what your baby does, you’re helping them to develop their social and emotional skills. Independent explorer Let your baby explore your home on their own but stay close by to…, Activities for 1-year-olds, Hide and search Hide toys or other baby-safe objects under a towel or blanket while you play together. Encourage your little one to find it and help them if they need it by pulling it out and saying “here it is!”. How your baby benefits: This kind of play teaches your baby all about object permanence: Even if you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s…, Activities for 18-month-olds, Walking buddy Encourage your toddler to walk with you in a safe space as soon as they are able. Go slowly to match their pace. How your child benefits: Your little one will feel more confident practicing their new skill with you by their side. It’s also a great way for you to enjoy getting exercise together! Make believe Encourage pretend play…, Activities for 2-year-olds, Household helper Invite your toddler to help with age-appropriate tasks around the house such as sorting clothes or serving food. Try to turn it into a game and let them know that they’re a great helper! How your child benefits: Including your child in household activities helps to foster independence and build self-esteem by letting them know…
15 September 2023

Flood safety information

Experiencing a flood is difficult and devastating for anyone, but especially so for children and their families. If you live in an area at risk of flooding, follow these expert tips to keep yourself and your family safe. Arrow Jump to: Facts about floods How to prepare What to do during a flood What to do after a flood Comforting your children  , Facts about floods, What is a flood?, Floods are an overflow of water onto land that is usually dry. Inundation floods develop slowly over a period of hours or days while flash floods occur suddenly and often without warning. River floods are caused when consistent rain or snow melting forces a river to exceed capacity. Coastal floods are caused by storm surges associated with…, What causes floods?, Floods can occur during periods of intense rainfall, when snow melts quickly or when dams break., What is a flash flood?, Flash floods are the most dangerous type of flood because they happen quickly and often without enough time for local governments and authorities to warn the community. Flash floods happen when rainfall happens too quickly for the ground to absorb, causing the water levels to rise rapidly., How to prepare for a flood, Flooded streets in Kherson, Ukraine. Talk to your family about floods Spend time together talking about floods and why they occur. Practice your safety plan Find a safe evacuation route to take in the event of a flood and practice it with your family. Talk together about having a meeting point in case you get separated. Create an “emergency kit”…, What to do during a flood, The effects of climate change are hitting Madagascar hard, one of the least polluting countries on the planet. Listen to local authorities Tune in to your local news or radio station for weather updates and official advice. If you are advised to evacuate, grab your emergency kit and ID papers and do so immediately. If first responders have set up…, What to do after a flood, Juana Jennifer Tzoy, 9, and Manuel Moreno from UNICEF, travel in a boat to where her school used to be in the town of Campur, San Pedro Carchá, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Listen for updates Monitor updates from local authorities and only return home when it is declared safe. Look after your family’s health The contaminated water created by flooding…, Comforting your children after a flood, Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Maryana has been confronted with restless thoughts every day. She and her 8-year-old son flee to Germany, after escaping from shellings in her homeland. Start the conversation and keep it open Make sure you provide your child with opportunities to talk about how the flood made them feel and encourage them to…
07 September 2023

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 September 2023

How to talk to your child's school about bullying

School leaders and teachers are important allies for preventing and addressing bullying. Bullying behaviour often takes place in school classrooms and hallways, where teachers and administrators can intervene. But the classroom is also an ideal setting for educating children about bullying and its harmful consequences, and shaping a culture of…, Know your rights, Children have the right to go to school and learn in safety. Schools and teachers play an important role in protecting children. The adults who oversee and work in educational settings have a duty to create environments that support and promote children’s dignity, development and protection.  These rights are explicitly written in the United…, How can I work with my child’s school to prevent bullying?, Bullying prevention through the use of dedicated lessons, meetings and/or curriculum has been shown to effectively reduce bullying in schools. Here’s how you can talk to your child’s teacher about starting with prevention: Establish relationships with school employees  Get to know your child’s teacher and other adults in leadership roles at the…, How can I work with my child’s school if my child is being bullied?, Do your research Find out if the school has a response mechanism or policy in place for bullying. Make sure there is a support system for both your child and the child who is bullying.  Allow the school to take action Allow schools to take responsibility for dealing with bullying in line with school rules and regulations. Talk to school counselors…, How should I work with the school if my child is bullying others?, Work with the school to determine consequences If a child who bullies is not disciplined for their actions, they can think that similar actions will have no consequences in the future. Talk to your school about appropriate consequences for your child, proportional to the offense. Discipline should always be immediate, non-violent and focused on…
04 September 2023

Bullying: What is it and how to stop it

Watching your child experience the physical and emotional pain of bullying or cyberbullying is heartbreaking.  Some parents are unsure where to begin to help protect their children from bullying and violence. Others may not know if their children are victims, bystanders or even perpetrators of harmful behaviours.  Here are some tips on how to…, What is bullying?, You can usually identify bullying through the following three characteristics: intent, repetition, and power. A person who bullies intends to cause pain, either through physical harm or hurtful words or behaviour, and does so repeatedly. Boys are more likely to experience physical bullying, while girls are more likely to experience psychological…, Why should I intervene if my child is being bullied?, Bullying can have harmful and long lasting consequences for children. Besides the physical effects of bullying, children may experience emotional and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety , that can lead to substance abuse and decreased performance in school. Unlike in-person bullying, cyberbullying can reach a victim anywhere,…, How can I help prevent bullying?, The first step to keeping your child safe, whether in-person or online, is making sure they know the issue.  1. Educate your children about bullying Once they know what bullying is, your children will be able to identify it more easily, whether it is happening to them or someone else.  2. Talk openly and frequently to your children The more you…, I’m not sure if my child is being bullied. What signs should I look out for?, Keep an eye on your child's emotional state, as some children may not express their concerns verbally. Signs to look out for include: Physical marks such as unexplained bruises, scratches, broken bones and healing wounds  Fear of going to school or joining school events Being anxious, nervous or very vigilant Having few friends in school or…, What should I do if my child is being bullied or threatened?, If you know your child is being bullied, there are several steps you can take to help: 1. Listen to your child openly and calmly Focus on making them feel heard and supported, instead of trying to find the cause of the bullying or trying to solve the problem. Make sure they know that it is not their fault.  2. Reassure your child Tell the child…, What can I do if my child is bullying others?, If you think or know that your child is bullying other children, it’s important to remember that they are not inherently bad, but may be acting out for a number of reasons. Children who bully often just want to fit in, need attention or are simply figuring out how to deal with complicated emotions. In some cases, children who bully are themselves…