5 parenting tips

Raising children can be quite a handful, especially when they get out of hand. Here you can find useful tips, which could help you keep your children in order, both physically and behaviourally.

Bed-wetting blues
Your child is wetting his bed and you don't know what to do. Know that medical treatment is not the only strategy that helps – motivational counselling can make a big difference too.

Take action:
Counselling includes the following: the child assumes an active role by keeping track of wet and dry nights on a calendar; fluids are not consumed 2-3 hours before going to bed; the child has to try to urinate before going to bed; as soon as the child is old enough, he or she has to take responsibility for changing the bedding and putting on dry clothes when wet; no punishment is allowed and parents shouldn't get angry; positive reinforcement is given for dry nights; continuous reassurance about the cause and the outcome should be given to avoid any blame and guilt.

Keep that bedroom accident free
It's impossible to watch your toddler every second of the day. That's why it's important to make sure that your child's bedroom is as safe as possible.

Take action:
Don't allow small children to sleep or climb on bunk beds. The top bed should have railings right around, and always use flameproof materials for bedding and clothing. Keep older children's toys away from the under-threes, and throw away or repair broken toys and games. Get rid of small pieces of crayon, and don't allow small children to play with beads, buttons, coins, bits of torn plastic or broken balloons. Lastly, use doorstoppers at the top of the door to prevent children from closing doors and trapping fingers.

Avoid those temper tantrums
Most parents have to cope with doing their grocery shopping in the company of their kids at some point or another. This can be an exhausting exercise for the ill-prepared. Luckily, there are things you can do to make the trip to the supermarket a more pleasant experience for all concerned.

Take action:
Don't take a hungry toddler to the supermarket. Make sure your child's nappy is dry before you go, and take your toddler's favourite toy to the supermarket. Go to the supermarket at a time when it will be empty, e.g. Tuesday mornings. Also, make sure you know what you want and where to get it. Turn the expedition into a game – and pretend that sitting in the trolley seat is a special treat. Reward your toddler with something small (not necessarily sweets) if his/her behaviour has been good.

Too much petting could hurt
Toddlers can hurt pets badly. And pets can hurt toddlers badly. So, it's up to the parents to control this potentially destructive situation. Take the following tips to heart.

Take action:
Never leave pets alone with toddlers. If your baby is crawling, hold your dog in a sit/stay position. Teach your toddler to respect pets from an early age, and always be there for immediate supervision. Teach your child not to disturb the pet while it's eating or playing with toys, and children should also not insist on running after the pet when it's trying to avoid them. Trim your cat's nails regularly, and remember that every pet has limits to its tolerance, even the kindest ones.

Keep obesity at bay
Globally, more than 22 million kids younger than five suffer from obesity. This not only has an impact on their quality of life, but also on their health – now and in future. But parents can take simple steps to keep their kids in shape.

Take action:
Keep lots of fruit and veggies on hand – the goal is five servings a day. Other nutritious snacks include yoghurt, peanut butter and celery, and whole-grain crackers and cheese. Serve lean meats and other healthy sources of protein such as eggs and nuts. Limit fat consumption by avoiding fried foods, and opt for healthier cooking methods, such as baking and grilling. Limit sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit-flavoured drinks – instead, serve water and milk, and sneak more exercise into the day without making it a chore – try riding bikes or going to the park as a family.

Get the couch potato out
Fatigue in children may have many causes. Lack of exercise is one. Unfortunately, this may create a vicious cycle: a child who is tired won't be able to muster up the energy to exercise, and a child who doesn't exercise is at greater risk of suffering from fatigue. That's why it's important to encourage your child to be active.

Take action:
Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when your child is less likely to feel tired. On days when the child is especially weary, try to encourage simple stretching exercises – anything that will encourage her to get moving. Convince your child that if he/she gives it a chance, exercise will increase energy levels. Act as a role model – you can't tell your child to go out and exercise while you're sitting in front of the television yourself. Make sure that your child also follows a healthy diet. Consult your doctor if the problem persists.

(Carine Visagie, Health24, updated February 2012)

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