The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for New Parents
by Alan Greene, MD, FAAP
Once you become a parent, there are no limits to how much advice you’ll get. There are books and websites and brochures and neighbors and family and strangers - everywhere you turn, you’ll find solicited and unsolicited (and sometimes offensive) advice.
Every day I see parents struggling through this minefield, trying their best to do what’s right for their families, but no one has the perfect guidebook that tells parents what to do. Here are the top ten do’s and don’ts I have for parents (after working with them every day and being one myself).
1 ) Do… Have confidence in your parenting style. Don’t… Worry about what your parents or the neighbors or your child's teacher thinks about your parenting style. Find a parenting style that you’re comfortable with and relax.
2 ) Do… Exercise. Don’t… Skip it because you don’t have the time. It’s not only good for your body, it’s excellent for your brain and overall well-being. And, kids follow our example. If we're not exercising, they won't learn to either. So take care of yourself and teach your kids to do the same.
3 ) Do… Take the time to create healthy meals for your family. Don’t… settle for food that isn't helping them build a strong body and mind. What children eat is vitally important, and the foods they learn to love when young, will often be their favorites as adults.
4 ) Do… Give your kids a good multi-vitamin each day. Don’t… Trust your food sources to provide all the nutrients kids need. Most kids don't eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Even if they did (and I do encourage at least that many) our food’s nutrient density has gone down. A good multi-vitamin each day could help round out their nutritional needs.
5 ) Do… Stay consistent with your rules (and both parents on the same page). Don’t… Let whining wear you down. If you want a child to sleep in her own bed, then letting her sleep in your bed “just this once” is going to make it harder later.
6 ) Do… Think about the things that matter. Don’t… Pick the wrong things to worry about. You need to pay close attention to some things, like your kids’ safety. But don't sweat the small stuff like letting your kids sleep in their clothes instead of pajamas.
7 ) Do… Take advantage of today. Don’t… Wait until tomorrow to build lifelong memories.
8 ) Do… Pay attention to both your perspective and your child's. Don't… Lose sight of your needs or theirs. If we focus too much on whatever children want, or too much on what we want, they miss out on learning both to give and receive.
9) Do... Try to reduce toxic exposures from things like pesticides and conventional cleaners. Don’t... Stress over every little thing - especially exposures beyond your control. Stress can have negative impacts on your health, too.
10) Do... Support your child to be the best he can be. Don’t... Push so hard or expect so much that you cause him undue stress. Kids are all unique and have many hidden talents. Allow them to bloom into who they are, not who you expect them to be.
What Do’s and Don’ts would you add?