There are many, many times throughout a child's life a parent laments, "I wish someone would create an 'owners manual' for these little people." Well, fear not -- Pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg has."Good Kids, Bad Habits: The Real Age Guide to Raising Healthy Children" covers it all -- from stressing the benefits of healthy eating, good hygiene and lots of exercise to the virtues of establishing effective homework habits and safety-proofing your home.
The premise of the book? To raise children with healthy habits so they grow into ADULTS with established, healthy habits. The book begins with a test to gauge your child's activity level, social/emotional health and eating as well as safety habits.
Soon after, Trachtenberg introduces the 4 I's -- Identify, Inform, Instruct, and Instill.For me, much of the information covered was no huge surprise. But, it did serve as a great reminder in areas where I need to do some fine-tuning. The book offers information on/tips for children in every age range, so it was insightful to learn exactly how some needs change with age.
What I liked:
Jennifer's writing style is matter-of-fact and the overall tone is warm. The font-size is easy on the eyes, and vocabulary simple, making for a fast read. I also like that you could stop in the middle of a page, attend to a child or answer the phone, then easily pick up where you left off.
There are tons of tips scattered throughout the book. The author uses a lot of common sense and practical solutions when dealing with age-old parenting dilemmas. (A germ-containing strategy she shared that I found valuable is to teach your children to cough into a tissue or the crook of their elbow --NOT THEIR HANDS -- to minimize the risk. This is very important to me since one of Seth's teachers has cancer and is undergoing chemo treatments.)
The "five second rule" is an often debated subject at our house. (My hubby being for, me being against.) I highlighted a few topics, like this one, so the next time my hubby rolls his eyes and insinuates I'm a paranoid, worry-wart, I have the good doctor's advice on my side.
Trachtenberg also reminds us that we, as parents, don't have to make EVERY change she proposes. She recommends small changes and encourages a parent to keep improving -- small changes add up to big benefits for your child's health.
I particularly liked the section about building a child's self-esteem. She reminds parents how crucial our support and encouragement is in nurturing a child's interests. She also reminds us that children aren't born knowing how to make friends. (I was very happy to see this -- many parents forget making friends is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.) Then, she presents a few ideas on how to help children socialize and how to choose healthy friendships.
What I didn't like:
Sometimes the advice is so basic it may offend. An example: "When you begin noticing that your son or daughter has a different sort of odor after returning from soccer practice, it is time to introduce deodorant." (This may sound condescending to a reader. I assume she intents to educate as broad an audience as possible -- including people with little education and those who might not be aware of mainstream American hygienic practices.)
While the author did mention a host of the health problems children can have such as ADHD, Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma, childhood cancer, Depression and Eczema, I would like to have seen a few paragraphs on Sensory Integration Dysfunction -- a diagnosed condition that's increasingly common but unfortunately not widely publicized.
The book is PERFECT for:
This book best benefits people who are new to parenthood and don't have time (or don't want) to read a plethora of childcare books. This book (especially the chapter on safety, since guidelines have changed much over the years) would serve as a great refresher for new grandparents or others who aren't in the practice of addressing childcare needs.
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