Kids A to Z: Parent by Numbers
Follow these simple rules for raising a great kid.
12:00 AM EST
December 27, 2011
Activities: One for every five years of age, says Dr. Lolita McDavid of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. So a 5-year-old should be involved in one activity at any given time. A Saturday art class, for example. While a 10-year-old can handle two activities (say basketball that meets twice a week and Girl Scouts). A 15-year-old could have three things going on at once. There are exceptions, McDavid says, if you know your child's passion and the child is the one who drives the activity — and you're up for it. But don't force your dreams on your child, and balance it with unscheduled time.
Screen time: 10 hours per week, including TV and computer time. No TV or videos for children under 2 at all, says Dr. John Duby, of Akron Children's Hospital. Make it "destination screen time" by watching TV shows together as a family.
Time out: One minute for every year of age. A 3-year-old should spend three minutes in the time-out chair; a 6-year-old would be six minutes. "When they get up, reinforce why the discipline was used," says Rainbow's McDavid.
Child care: Use your five senses when looking at child care options, says Billie Osborne-Fears of Starting Point, a child care and early education resource and referral agency. Hear laughter. Smell good food cooking in the home, and make sure meals are tasty and nutritionally sound. Look for materials that spur creativity. Make sure children are doing hands-on activities.
Read: Three books a week, or at least 15 minutes at bedtime. Visit the library twice a week and check out three books each time. Reading is one of the best ways to bond with children.
Bond: Use the 10 minutes in the car to and from child care for bonding. Turn the radio off and talk about the day, or sing a song together. It keeps you feeling involved in your child's education and strengthens your relationship, even if you're stressed from working full time.
Well rounded: Enjoy the four seasons. Get outside in all four seasons, and ask your children what they see and how it changes.
Unlimited: "Nothing works like positive reinforcement," McDavid says. "I don't believe you can praise a child too much. Childhood is preparing them for the cold, hard world out there, and I don't think there's anything wrong with making a child feel like they're special. They are special."