Educational Materials for 5 Year Well-Visit

The topics listed below are based on American Academy of Pediatrics national recommendations about the kinds of things that are important to discuss or get more information about for children your child's age.

Click on the info to get education and tips from pediatric health care experts about each topic.

Making sure your child is ready to enter school

Succeeding in social situations More Info
Succeeding in social situations
What is this and why is it important?

Your 5 or 6 year old is likely entering kindergarten. This can be a hard transition for many children, even those who have attended preschool programs. The expectations for learning combined with understanding proper classroom behavior and making friends can be challenging. These important skills will help your child continue to grow and succeed in new settings. You may be anxious about your child starting school or meeting new people. Being supportive of your child’s new adventures will help your child do well in school. Be open to his questions, respectful of his feelings and opinions, and teach him about sharing.

Prepare your child for new social situations by talking about what to expect and practicing how he might handle hard situations. If your child is upset at a classmate, talk to him about his feelings to help him work it out. Helping your child learn positive ways to express his feelings will help him do well in school and other places. If your child is shy, remember to give him time to adjust to new social situations.

Your child learns social behavior from what he sees and does at home. Communicating well about difficult situations and feelings, showing compassion and caring, and building good friendships are valuable life skills you can model for your child.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about how to help your child develop his social skills.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child seems unhappy with school. What should I do?
  • How can I help my child share things and relate to others?
  • My child has special health care needs. How can I make sure he is included in social activities with his classmates?
  • My child is very shy. How do I help him make friends?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Friend or Foe? (AAP)

Shyness in Children (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Schor, Edward L. Caring for Your School-Age Child, Ages 5-12. New York, Bantam Books, 1995.

Continuing to improve in listening, reading, and math More Info
Continuing to improve in listening, reading, and math
What is this and why is it important?

Most children your child’s age are in school. Although your child’s activities may seem like play, he is learning important skills that will help him succeed later on. Learning social and communication skills is ongoing and is even more important as your child begins school on a daily basis. Reading aloud together, practicing being a good listener and doing basic math activities like counting are all things you can work on at home.

Listening is a learned skill that takes effort. Your child will use this skill every day in all situations and throughout adulthood. Listening is the key to good communication; beginning at a very young age. You can model good listening techniques when your child talks to you. Try to block out distractions and listen to your child without interrupting. You can then repeat what your child said back to him to show you understood what he said. By showing these behaviors to your child, you are teaching him how to be an active listener himself. Encourage him to practice these good listening skills with others.

Math is important to help your child make sense of the world outside of school, like how to share a bowl of crackers fairly with a playmate. To keep your child thinking about math, invite him to help cook or bake to practice simple addition and fractions. Encourage your child to be scorekeeper during games. At the grocery store, he can count food items. These are easy ways to introduce the use of math into your child’s everyday life.

Your child is starting to learn reading skills at school. He might think that reading is work rather than fun. Show your child that reading can be fun by letting him pick out books about things he likes at the library. Invite him to read back to you from his favorite book he has memorized. You can also talk about the books you’re reading together and ask him questions about the story. Try to have at least a few minutes of reading time every day. Children’s book clubs or age-appropriate magazines are good options for reading as well as your local library.

It is also important to encourage your child to write and draw. You can provide support for things your child is learning in school by following their natural curiosity and helping them learn more about their favorite things. You can do this by researching topics online yourself, or finding a children’s book or educational movie that they like. Ask your child to write about or draw his favorite things using art supplies and paper.

You can talk to your provider about ways to help your child continue to improve in listening, reading and math.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How can I help my child enjoy reading more?
  • How can I interest my child in art projects?
  • What activities can I do with my child to practice his math skills?
  • My child does not seem to listen to me. What can I do to help my child listen better?
  • My child can't read yet. Should I be worried?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

How to Reinforce Your Child's Learning (AAP)

Homework and Developing Responsibility (AAP)

Help Your Child Enjoy Reading Aloud: Tips for Parents (AAP)

Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings (NAEYC/NCTM)

Components of Good Communication - See Active Listening (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

NAEYC & NCTM (2010). Position Statement: Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings. 2d ed. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Helping your child feel comfortable in new places More Info
Helping your child feel comfortable in new places
What is this and why is it important?

As your child transitions to school, it is important that he has developed skills to feel comfortable in new settings. Even children who have been in preschool or daycare still need help adjusting to their new environment. Some skills that will help your child succeed in new places include teaching your child how to follow rules when you are not around and teaching your child how to get along with other children. You and your child will feel more comfortable in new places if your child knows to follow safety rules and what to do during emergencies.

Preparing your child for a change will help him feel more comfortable in new places. Sit down with your child and explain what will happen. Be sure to focus on the positive parts of the change and what your child can do to be comfortable. If the change will be permanent, such as starting a new school, try to visit beforehand so that your child feels familiar with the new setting and can get used to it more easily. Participate in the school community and become involved in some of the activities your child is involved in such as sports teams and clubs.

You can talk to your provider about helping your child feel comfortable in new places.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child always cries when I leave and is often inconsolable. How can I avoid this when I take her to school?
  • What strategies can I practice so my child experiences less separation anxiety?
  • How can I prepare my child for school before their first day?
  • I don't have time to visit new places before I go with my child. What can I do to make him feel more comfortable?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Helping your child with a move.

Checklist for the first day of school.

Treating children as individuals.

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Deciding if your child needs more help More Info
Deciding if your child needs more help
What is this and why is it important?

You can see how your child is developing in the way she plays, learns, speaks and acts. You know your child best, and it can be helpful to check the milestones your child has reached by her 5th birthday. Many checklists and other resources are available to help you see how your child is doing (see below for more information). It can be helpful to bring a checklist with you when you visit your child’s health care provider.

It’s important to identify and treat health issues early so your child can get the help she needs. Your child’s teacher can recognize developmental issues early and may have advice for you on how to help your child. Set up a time to meet with your child’s teacher if you are concerned about her development.

Your health care provider may refer you to a professional who specializes in the area you are concerned about (for example, learning problems or attention disorders).

Do NOT wait if you have concerns about your child’s development. Talk to your health care provider about whether early identification and treatment could help your child. Even if your child does not have a developmental delay, talking to your health care provider will give you useful information about your child’s strengths and challenges.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child can't pronounce words clearly a lot of the time. Does she need to see a specialist?
  • What types of math, writing, thinking and problem solving skills should my child show?
  • What should my child be able to do physically?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Your Child at 5 Years (CDC)

Important Milestones: Your Child at Five Years (CDC)

Important Milestones: If You're Concerned (CDC)

Your Child's Brain Development (FirstSteps)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Setting up routines More Info
Setting up routines
What is this and why is it important?

At age 5 and 6 your child’s routine is very important. Routine creates a sense of safety and security. For her to take an active role in her life, she needs to know what is next and what is expected of her on a day-to-day basis. Assigning regular household chores (such as picking up toys and helping with laundry) helps her feel like an important part of the family.

At home, your child should know what to expect during meals, when getting ready for school and at bedtime. It’s also important to be consistent with what behavior is expected, what activities are not allowed, and how she will be disciplined if she misbehaves.

A regular routine before school will help your child and the rest of the family. Getting up in the morning and having enough time to prepare for the day helps set a positive tone for the day. Breakfast is a very important meal for children. Since mornings can be hectic, try to keep this meal simple and nutritious and stick to the things your child likes best.

Your child may have homework at this age. It’s a good idea to have a regular place and time for her to do any homework. This can be anywhere as long as the area is well-lit and has few distractions (like other children playing or the television on).

Having a regular family meal time is an important routine for children, even if the whole family isn’t always able to eat together. If your work schedule doesn’t allow for eating dinner together nightly, you could try to eat breakfast together. Plan a special family meal together at least once a week.

Bedtime can take a long time if you don’t follow a regular routine. It is important to be firm and maintain boundaries but it is okay to be flexible. You can start with a quick tidying of the room so it is peaceful for sleeping and things are easier to find in the morning. Brushing and flossing every night should also be a part of the bedtime routine.

You can ask your child’s health care provider about important routines at home.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How strict should I be about my child's routine?
  • We have a lot of activities going on during the day. How do I know if it's too much?
  • Does my child need free time outside of planned activities?
  • How many times per week should we have a family meal?
  • What time should my child go to sleep on a school day?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Bedtime Routines for School Aged Children (AAP)

Developing Good Homework Habits (AAP)

Homework Habits - Audio (AAP)

Family Meals (KidsHealth)

Make Mealtime a Family Time (USDA)

Breakfast Basics (KidsHealth)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Learning more about the school system More Info
Learning more about the school system
What is this and why is it important?

Your child will spend a significant amount of her time in school, and knowing about her school is important. It is important that she attends school every school day. Learn more about your child’s school by attending back-to-school nights, parent-teacher meetings and other school activities. Many schools also have groups like parent-teacher associations (PTA), site councils, parent advisory councils or healthy school teams. School boards also encourage parents to participate in special committees that discuss topics such as school curriculums and school safety. These groups provide a great opportunity for you to learn about your child’s school system and to get involved.

You can learn more about your child’s school system by reading about the school and the district on the school website or in the newspaper. Some important things to know about her school include the attendance policy, school calendar, and school health related issues like the availability of a school nurse. Parent-teacher conferences are a good place to ask questions about your child’s education and how she is doing in the class. You can also get to know members of the school staff by introducing yourself at school events or by phone or email.

Volunteering in the classroom or at school events is another great way to become familiar with your child’s school, the staff, and her classroom teacher. Volunteering helps the school staff and the school district. It also is a wonderful way to learn more about your child’s activities at school. There are many opportunities available that can fit in your schedule, such as helping at a school event, attending a field trip, or helping in your child’s classroom. By being involved, you are showing your child that you care about her success at school.

You can speak with your child’s health care provider, teacher, or school administrator about more ways to learn about your child’s school system.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What do I need to know about my child's school and school system?
  • I don't have internet access at home. How can I learn more about the school system?
  • I don't have very much extra time. How else can I support my child at school?
  • My child has special health care needs. How can I talk to her school about this?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

How to Get Involved with Your Child's School (AAP)

Communicating Effectively with School Personnel (AAP)

The Parent-Teacher Conference (AAP)

Getting Involved at Your Child's School (KidsHealth)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Understanding your child's school report cards and special reports More Info
Understanding your child's school report cards and special reports
What is this and why is it important?

Your child’s progress in school is an important part of her development. It is good for you to pay close attention to any report cards and special reports that are being sent home from school. Be sure to contact your child’s teacher, office staff, or principal if you need more information or you’re not sure what to do next. If you do not receive any report cards, talk to your child’s teacher about how your child is doing in school. Talk to your child about her report card and be sure to praise her successes and talk about ways she can improve.

Your child’s school uses report cards to track your child’s progress towards educational goals, and you can use them to see how your child is doing in school. Your child may have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if she gets extra help at school. The IEP is a way your child’s teacher can help your child succeed at school. Many public schools offer information on their website to help you understand your child’s report card or IEP. Parent-teacher conferences are a great place to talk about report cards and special reports, so be sure to take advantage of those events when scheduled by your school. If you still have questions about your child’s report card, it can be helpful to contact his teacher or the school office staff.

You can bring your child’s report cards and special reports to your provider to talk about her progress at school and any concerns you may have.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What can I do if I don't understand my child's report card?
  • If my child is getting a lot of notes reporting a certain negative behavior, how can I help my child to stop that behavior?
  • My child needs extra help at school. Who should I talk to at my school about this?
  • My child's school says she needs an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Does this mean she is not doing well at school?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

School Discipline (AAP)

Communicating Effectively with School Personnel (AAP)

Parent-Teacher Conferences (KidsHealth)

Common Core State Standards for Education

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Eating healthy foods and staying active

Healthy weight for your child More Info
Healthy weight for your child
What is this and why is it important?

A healthy weight is important for your child’s health now and his future health as an adult. At every visit, your pediatrician will measure your child’s height and weight and will use that to determine your child’s Body Mass Index, or BMI. BMI is a formula used by doctors to estimate how much body fat your child has based on his height and weight. This measurement can help your pediatrician determine if your child is overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems, so it is important to talk to your doctor about how you can help your child get to and stay at a healthy weight.

Overweight and obese children have an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Help your child make healthy food choices and encourage him to get plenty of physical activity every day.

You can talk about your child’s activity level, food intake and weight with your child’s health care provider.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What can I do to help my child reach a healthy weight?
  • My child is active and eats well but is still overweight or underweight. What should I do?
  • I'm worried that my child is overweight, but I don't want him to develop a distorted body image or an eating disorder. What can I do?
  • I have a picky child. How can I make sure he is eating healthy foods?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Growing Healthy (AAP)

Is Your Child Overweight? (AAP)

Growth Charts: By the Numbers (AAP)

Your Child's Weight (KidsHealth)

Body Mass Index (BMI) Charts (KidsHealth)

Encouraging a Healthy Body Image (KidsHealth)

Your Child's Weight (KidsHealth)

Overweight and Obesity (KidsHealth)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Eating a well-balanced diet More Info
Eating a well-balanced diet
What is this and why is it important?

A well-balanced diet is important for your child’s health and growth. With good nutrition children get sick less often, sleep better, and have more energy for exercise and play. But many parents have questions about how much and what to feed their children.

You should offer your child a variety of different foods including vegetables, fruits, bread, cereal or pasta, protein foods like meat, fish, or beans, and dairy every day. Provide 3 meals and 2 or 3 healthy snacks every day. Eating meals together as often as you can is a good way to show your child healthy food choices and helps children form healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Avoid giving your child sugary snacks and drinks like candy bars and soda pop.

Children need calcium to build healthy bones, but many do not get enough calcium in their diet. Your child should get 3 or 4 servings of calcium every day, from milk, cheese, yogurt, or leafy green vegetables.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about other healthy food options for your child.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child is a picky eater, how can I find well-balanced meals that he will eat?
  • Can my child get enough protein without eating meat?
  • How can I make good choices for my child when we eat out, especially at fast food places?
  • Can you recommend some healthy snacks for my child?
  • My child is always moving so it's hard for me to make sure she eats a full meal. What can I do to help my child eat more?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Making Healthy Food Choices (AAP)

My Plate Food Guide (KidsHealth)

Healthy Eating for School-Age Kids - Audio (AAP)

Childhood Nutirition (AAP)

Vegetarian Diets for Children (AAP)

Healthy Snacks (AAP)

Fast Food, Healthy Choices (AAP)

Monitoring What Your Child Eats (AAP)

Nutritional Information on Food Labels: What it All Means (AAP)

Nutritional Needs for Young Athletes (AAP)

Understanding Your Child's Appetite (AAP)

Healthy Living Nutrition Resources (AAP)

Nutrition for Everyone (CDC)

Nutrition for Everyone - Other Resources (CDC)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Teaching your child to make healthy food choices More Info
Teaching your child to make healthy food choices
What is this and why is it important?

Your child is becoming more independent and making choices about what to eat. Teaching your child to make healthy food choices on his own begins with your example. Talk to your child about healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and how he can include these in his meals and snacks. Tell your child that milk and water are healthier drink choices than soda pop, fruit juice or sport drinks. Children learn best by example, so if you are making healthy food choices both at home and on-the-go your child is more likely to make these healthy choices too.

A great way to teach your child about healthy food choices is to let him cook with you. Involve him in the whole process, from planning the meal and shopping for ingredients to actually preparing and serving the food. When planning a meal with your child, include foods from all the major groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables (like oranges, berries, spinach, or broccoli)
  • Grains (like pasta, rice or bread)
  • Dairy (like milk, cheese, or yogurt)
  • Protein (like chicken, fish, or tofu)

Let your child help you with stirring the food or cutting up vegetables, but keep in mind your child should never be in the kitchen preparing food alone.

You can ask your child’s health care provider more about how to help your child to make healthy food choices.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How can I make sure my child is eating healthy foods when he is not at home?
  • My child has food allergies. How can I make sure he eats a healthy diet?
  • Our mornings are really rushed. What are healthy breakfast choices that are also quick?
  • My child has special health care needs. Are there certain foods he should be eating?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Making Healthy Food Choices (AAP)

Nutrition for Everyone (CDC)

Cooking With Your Children (AAP)

Teaching Kids to Cook - Audio (AAP)

The Scope on Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereals (AAP)

Cooking with School-Aged Kids (KidsHealth)

Healthy Food Shopping (KidsHealth)

Strategies for Feeding a Preschooler (KidsHealth)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy

Regular visits to the dentist More Info
Regular visits to the dentist
What is this and why is it important?

Healthy teeth and gums are important to your child’s overall health, and regular visits to the dentist are an important part of oral health. The best way to make sure your child gets good dental care is by having a dental home. When your child has a dental home you can share information with your child’s dentist, get advice on how to keep your child’s teeth healthy, and talk to the dentist about any concerns you might have, like diet or thumb sucking. If your child doesn’t have a dental home already, ask your health care provider to help you find one.

Your child should visit the dentist twice a year, unless the dentist says he should come more or less often. Going to the dentist regularly can help reduce fear of the dentist and help your child develop good oral health practices.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How can I reduce my child's fear of the dentist?
  • How often should I take my child to the dentist?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Bright Future Parent Handout 5 and 6 Year Visits (AAP)

Dental Home (AAP)

AAP Oral Health Web Site

Why Regular Dental Visits Are Important

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth More Info
Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth
What is this and why is it important?

Healthy teeth and gums are important to your child’s overall health and relatively easy to achieve. By the time your child is 5 years old she should have been to a dentist for preventive dental care several times. To keep teeth and gums healthy, your child should brush her teeth twice a day—after breakfast and before bed—and floss once a day. If you make brushing and flossing a part of your child’s daily routine, your child will form healthy habits for a lifetime of oral health. Set a good example for your child by brushing and flossing your own teeth every day.

Your child may still need some help with brushing and flossing. Watch her as she brushes to make sure she does a complete job, and help her to reach areas like back teeth. Use a soft toothbrush and only a very small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a pea. Make sure the toothpaste has fluoride. Your child should spit out the toothpaste after brushing, but should not rinse her mouth with water. The small amount of toothpaste that stays in the mouth after brushing will help prevent cavities.

Talk to your child’s health care provider about other ways to keep teeth and gums healthy including drinking fluoridated water, avoiding sugary drinks and treats, and regular visits to the dentist.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What type of toothbrush should my child be using to brush her teeth?
  • My child does not like flossing. How can I encourage her to floss every day?
  • How can I find a dentist for my child?
  • I don't have dental insurance for my family. Is there a place I can take my child for affordable dental care?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Promoting Oral Health (AAP)

Oral Health (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mental health

Helping your child express feelings and control behaviors More Info
Helping your child express feelings and control behaviors
What is this and why is it important?

As your child is starting school and making friends it is important to teach him how to express his feelings and control his behaviors. Teaching your child to cope with his emotions will help him enjoy spending time with others. Your child needs to learn and understand that his emotions are important and natural but that his actions do not have to match his emotions. Everyone gets angry at times, but it’s never OK to hit, bite, kick, or punch another person.

You can help your child understand and cope with his emotions by helping him name them and what is causing them. Help your child talk through his emotions and teach him different helpful ways to express himself. If he is feeling angry, encourage him to talk about what has upset him, walk away from the person who is making him angry, or go outside to run or play hard.

It may be hard for your child to learn how to express his emotions in a positive way. Praise his efforts and encourage him to talk about his emotions and reactions to different events and situations. Be a role model for your child by talking about your emotions and showing positive ways to deal with feelings, never with violent behavior.

Talk to your health care provider to learn more about helping your child express his feelings in a positive, not-harmful way.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How can I teach my child to practice self-control?
  • What can I do to help my child express anger in ways other than having temper tantrums?
  • My child seems sad a lot of the time. What can I do to make him feel better?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Everybody Gets Mad: Helping Your Child Cope with Conflict (AAP)

Emotional Wellness (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Supporting your child's communication skills More Info
Supporting your child's communication skills
What is this and why is it important?

Communication skills are important as your child gets ready to start school. Communication is a two-way street that involves active listening and talking. These skills are important to model for your child. Practicing active listening and talking with your child at home will help her become a better communicator.

Set aside time in your daily routine to talk to your child without distractions. This will promote active listening and give your child a chance to practice communication. Practice eye contact with your child and nod your head to show that you are following what she says. Repeat back what your child says and encourage her to do the same when you talk. This will help her learn how to listen closely.

Work with your child on “I” and “You” statements. “You” statements often place blame or judgment on someone, such as “You’re mean”. “I” statements connect our emotions to the statement, such as “I felt sad when you didn’t share your toy with me”. The goal is to communicate without placing blame on someone else and still allowing you to express your emotions.

Teach your child communication skills through conversations and activities. Acknowledge when he practices good communication and help him work through difficult situations. Work with your child based on his communication level.

Talk to your child’s health care provider about how to support effective communication skills.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child has ADHD and has trouble focusing during conversation. How can I help teach him active listening?
  • My child is not talking yet. What are some ways I can help him improve his communication skills?
  • What activities outside of school can I place my child in to improve his communication skills?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Communicating with Your Child (AAP)

Components of Good Communication (AAP)

Adapting a Style of Communication with Your Child with ADHD (AAP)

Communication: "You" vs. "I" Statements

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Setting safe boundaries for your child More Info
Setting safe boundaries for your child
What is this and why is it important?

Creating boundaries helps guide children through activities and keeps them safe as they become more independent. Learning safe boundaries will also help your child in school because she will already have practiced following directions.

Boundaries can be created around everyday activities like bike riding and household responsibilities. For example, rules for biking should include always wearing a helmet and riding only where you can see her. Involve your child by encouraging her to come up with ideas for boundaries and to share them with friends.

It’s best to be consistent with boundaries. Suggest to your friends and family that they follow the same boundaries you have set when they are with your child. If your child has trouble with a certain boundary, explain why it is important. Praise your child when she follows your boundaries without being reminded.

Talk to your child’s health care provider about safe boundaries for your child.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What boundaries should I set for my child?
  • How can I encourage my child to follow boundaries when she is at a friend's house?
  • How can I be sure my child understands the boundaries I have set?
  • My child is very adventurous and has trouble paying attention. How can I allow her to explore while being safe?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Safety for Your Child: 5 Years

Safety for Your Child: 6 Years

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Supporting your child's social time outside the home More Info
Supporting your child's social time outside the home
What is this and why is it important?

Your child is beginning to form new friendships and spend more time with her friends. Your child will look to you for support as she becomes more independent. You can help your child explore her new freedom while you teach her how friends should treat each other. Explain that good friends respect each other, follow the rules, and help others.

Show your child what she should look for in friends, such as common interests. Teach her ways friends should treat and talk to each other nicely. Be involved with and ask about her friendships. Get to know her friends and how they like to spend their time together. Get to know her friends’ families and make sure you feel comfortable with your child spending time with them. Meet the families at school or community events where your kids can play and you can get to know each other and learn about each family’s rules and interests.

Encourage play time, especially active play. Children should get about 60 minutes of physical activity every day to stay healthy. Children with special health care needs may need adaptations, but they need to be active too. The activity does not have to be all at once and can be distributed throughout the entire day.

Talk to your child about her friends and the type of games they play. This can help you decide together if your child is interested in a sport or club. Let your child know you are here to talk about any problems she is having with friends and that you care about her relationships with friends.

Talk to your child’s health care provider about how other ways to support or encourage your child.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • If my child is have trouble making friends should I place her in sports?
  • My child never invites her friends over to our house. How can I encourage her to bring friends over?
  • My child is very shy. Should I be worried?
  • How do I find a safe play area for my child?
  • What if my child prefers to watch TV rather than go outside?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Friend or Foe (AAP)

Friends are Important: Tips for Parents (AAP)

Shyness in Children (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Helping your child make good decisions and gain independence More Info
Helping your child make good decisions and gain independence
What is this and why is it important?

Your child will gain more independence as he grows and it is important to help him make good decisions. He will gain self-confidence, independence and communication skills as he makes new friends and spends more time with them. It is important to know your child’s friends and their families and to review rules and expectations with your child. Ask your child about his friends and what they do together.

Your child can also gain independence by participating in sports, clubs, and community activities. These each provide your child with the opportunity for exploring on his own and give him chances to make his own decisions. Your child will also gain independence when he is given responsibilities such as dressing himself, doing household chores like setting the table, or being in charge of his school backpack.

Encourage good decisions by praising him and not just punishing misbehaviors. Model good choices and explain the reason behind your actions. Teaching your child why good decisions are important for his health and safety will help him understand why it is important.

Talk to your child’s health care provider about encouraging good decisions and independent growth.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What are some afterschool programs my child can join?
  • What rewards should I give my child for making good decisions?
  • How often should I let my child go to a friend's house or play alone in his room?
  • My child is very shy. How can I help him make friends?
  • My child has special health care needs and is very dependent on me. How can I encourage him to become more self-confident and independent?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Friends are Important: Tips for Parents (AAP)

Treating Children as Individuals (AAP)

Growing Independence: Tips for Parents of Young Children (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Helping your child to follow rules and get along with others More Info
Helping your child to follow rules and get along with others
What is this and why is it important?

At five to six years old your child is still learning how to get along with others. He may also want to be more independent now. He may be going to school and may want to play at a friend’s house without you coming along. Because your child will not be under your care at all times, it’s important to teach him to follow rules that will keep him safe and give you peace of mind.

Teach your child rules about behaving well in different places and with different people. For example, running around is okay at the park but not at the grocery store. When she is away from you, your child should know to obey the adults in charge and who to go to for help.

Your child will make friends more easily if he is able to get along with and show respect for other children. This will help him build self-esteem and confidence to try new things and feel comfortable in different settings. This is a good time to teach your child about bullying and being bullied, and who to turn to for help.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about other ways to help your child get along with others and follow rules.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • My child has trouble following the rules at school. What can I do to help him?
  • My child has special health care needs and sometimes does not understand safety rules. What are some ways I can help him learn them?
  • Is hitting or spanking my child for bad behavior ever OK?
  • How should I talk to my child about bullying? How do I know if my child is being a bully or if she is being bullied?
  • My child's friend doesn't follow my rules when he comes over to play. What should I do?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Best way to handle a "difficult" child

The disobedient child

Building good self-esteem

Friend or foe?

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Ginsburg, Kenneth R., and Martha Moraghan Jablow. Building resilience in children and teens: giving kids roots and wings. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011.

Your child’s safety

Keeping kids safe around guns More Info
Keeping kids safe around guns
What is this and why is it important?

More than one third of all US households have guns. This presents a very real danger for young children, whether you have guns in your home or not. More than 1.5 million children in the US live in a home with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm, so it is important to talk to your child about guns, the potential danger of them, and what to do if they find one. Even if you do not have a gun in your home, your child could come across one in a friend’s house.

Guns in homes are a serious risk to families and the best way to keep your children safe from injury or death from guns is to never have a gun in the home. If you choose to keep guns in the home, it’s important to be responsible for them. They should be unloaded and locked, with the ammunition stored separately. Guns should be stored in a locked gun safe that only you can unlock.

Toy guns are common and popular among young children. It is up to you to decide if your child is allowed to play with toy guns. Talk to your child about the difference between toy guns and real guns. Remember that young children do not understand how dangerous guns are, even if you have talked about gun safety. Find out if there are guns in the homes where your child plays and make sure they are stored safely.

You can ask your health care provider about gun ownership and storing guns and ammunition safely.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • I don't have guns in my house. Do I still need to teach my child about gun safety?
  • Is it okay to let my child play with toy guns?
  • I have guns in my house. How can I make sure my child and his friends are safe?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Gun Safety (KidsHealth)

Gun Safety: Keeping Children Safe (AAP)

Handguns in the Home (AAP)

Where We Stand: Gun Safety (AAP)

Toy Guns - Audio (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Ginsburg, Kenneth R., and Martha Moraghan Jablow. Building resilience in children and teens: giving kids roots and wings. 2nd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011.

Teaching your child about fire safety More Info
Teaching your child about fire safety
What is this and why is it important?

Now that your child is at an age of curiosity and is starting to become more independent, it is important to teach him certain safety rules. As your child plays around the home or with other kids, accidents may happen. That is why it is important for your child to know about the dangers of fires and how to deal with them in case of an emergency. Map out a fire drill with your family and practice it together. This way, your child will know what to do and how to escape in case of a fire. Teach your child about calling 911 in case of an emergency.

Install smoke detectors on every level in your home, especially near sleeping and furnace areas. Check the batteries of your smoke detectors and change them at least twice a year. Be aware of potential fire hazards in your home. Know where matches or lighters are and make sure they are out of your child’s reach. Be sure to use extension cords and electric appliances properly. Let your child know what items are never to be used without your supervision, such as the stove or heater.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about fire safety.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What can I do in case of a fire?
  • How do I teach my child about fire drills?
  • What are some fire safety precautions I can take in my home?
  • My child has trouble getting around. How can I make sure he's safe in case of a fire?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Fire Safety In the Home

Fire Safety (AAP)

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Fire Safety. Retrieved 10/18/13 from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Fire-Safety.aspx

Make a fire escape plan More Info
Make a fire escape plan
What is this and why is it important?

It’s important to be prepared in case there is an emergency and you need to leave your house quickly. Map out a fire escape plan with your family and practice fire drills together. This way, your child will know what to do and how to escape in case of a fire. Make your practice fire drills a little different each time. Plan escape routes around the house and talk about all the possible places a fire could occur. Try to have at least 2 ways to exit every room. If you live in an apartment building, never use the elevator during a fire and instead take the stairs.

Make sure your family knows what to do during a fire. Teach your child to crawl low to avoid smoke and to test closed doors with the back of your hand for heat. Teach your child to call 911 in case of an emergency, and never to go back into the home during a fire. The most important thing is to get out of the house and away from the fire.

Teach your child how to “stop-drop-and-roll” if his clothes catch on fire. Planning ahead will bring you peace of mind and help keep your family safe.

You can talk to your provider about how to make a fire escape plan for you and your child.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What are some of the most common fire hazards?
  • How can I get my child to practice fire drills?
  • What if we only have cells phones and no landlines? How do I teach my child about calling 911?
  • My child uses a wheelchair to get around. How can I make a fire escape plan for him?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Kid’s Health-Fire Safety

Fire Safety (AAP)

Basic Fire Escape Planning

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Fire Safety. Retrieved 10/18/13 from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Fire-Safety.aspx

Talking to your child about their body and preventing sexual abuse More Info
Talking to your child about their body and preventing sexual abuse
What is this and why is it important?

It is important both to the parent and the child to understand the developmental changes that boys and girls undergo as they get older and start having questions about their bodies. Try to create an open and comfortable environment where your child can openly share any experiences or questions he may have. Approaching this topic as a natural part of development will also help your child understand that the changes are normal. This will also encourage the development of his self-esteem and positive body image.

Children that are 5 to 6 years old are very curious about their bodies. Your child may be asking questions such as “Where do babies come from?” or “Why are boys different from girls?” When questions like these do arise, it is important to answer honestly and be as straightforward as possible.

This is also the age when children become curious about the bodies of others as well. Although this is very natural behavior, it is also vital that you explain acceptable and unacceptable touch by adults and other children. Emphasize that “private parts” or the “swimsuit area” should never be touched by other adults. Explain to your child that another adult is never allowed to tell him to keep secrets from you. This is also a time to teach your child about respecting the privacy of others.

Discuss with your child what he sees on TV or the internet, which often contain sexually explicit material that can be confusing to children that are just beginning to understand their bodies and feelings. Avoid sexually explicit or violent programs, and teach your child why these programs are not appropriate for him.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about talking to your child about his body and how to prevent sexual abuse.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • When is a good time to talk to my child about sex?
  • My child likes to touch himself in public. How do I teach him that this is not okay?
  • My child has a special health care need. How do I know if my child understands the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Understanding Early Sexual Development

Body Basics

Developing a Healthy Self-Esteem

Sexual Abuse

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Nemours Foundation-Kid’s Health. Sexual Health and Development. Accessed 10/18/13 from http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/sexual_health/development.html#.

Keeping kids safe while biking, swimming, and other activities More Info
Keeping kids safe while biking, swimming, and other activities
What is this and why is it important?

All children want to and should be active. Activity comes in many forms. Biking, swimming, and other sports are great ways for your child to have fun while being physically active.

To prevent injury, your child should follow safety rules. Before your child starts a sport or activity be aware of which precautions to take. For example, when you go on a bike ride, make sure you and your child always wear a helmet. This is a good time to teach your child about road and bicycle safety rules. Make sure you watch over your child when she is riding her bike.

When your child is learning to ride a bike, watch to see how she controls the bike and how good her judgment seems. Correct any mistakes she may make and encourage safe habits. Your child should wear the right safety equipment for any activity such as shin pads for soccer and helmets for roller-skating.

Never leave your child alone around water. You should always be within arm’s reach of your child around lakes, streams, pools and oceans. Swimming pools in your community, apartment complex, or home should be completely fenced off and locked at all times so that your child cannot enter them without an adult present. Teach your child how to swim. If you are unsure how to do this, ask your health care provider or contact your local community center. There are many community-based programs that can teach your child how to swim.

Protect your child’s skin from the sun by using hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses whenever possible. If you are not able to cover their skin, use sunscreen when you know your child will be outside. Choose a sunscreen with the words “broad-spectrum” on the label and one that has a SPF of at least 15. This type of sunscreen will protect against both types of harmful sun rays. Sunscreen works best when it is applied 15-30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen can be used year round. Direct sun is still damaging to your child’s skin even when it is cold outside.

Diving into shallow water is dangerous. Tell your child she should not dive into any water unless an adult has checked how deep it is. When you are on a boat with your child, have her wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket and make sure it is the right size.

Being active and safe is healthy and fun for the whole family. You can talk to your provider about keeping your child safe during outdoor activities.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • How do I teach my child how to swim?
  • My son is 5 and wants to play football. Is that okay?
  • When can my child ride a bike without my supervision?
  • My child doesn't like it when I put sunscreen on. What can I do?
  • I don't have access to a bike or a pool. What are some fun activities for my child?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

Kids Safe at Play

Water Safety

Sun Safety and Sunscreen

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vickers, Melissa; Anderson, Betsy; Dworetzky, Beth; Popper, Barbara. Bright Futures Family Pocket Guide: Raising Healthy Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Albuquerque, NM: Family Voices, 2012.

Help your child remember and understand rules to stay safe More Info
Help your child remember and understand rules to stay safe
What is this and why is it important?

Your 5- or 6-year-old will not always be under your supervision so it is important to help him understand some safety rules. Teach him important emergency phone numbers such as 911 and a home phone number. Tell him who he can go to in case of an emergency, such as a trusted neighbor or family member. Make sure your child knows what to do in case of a fire and remind him of the importance of following safety rules at all times.

Be aware of who is supervising your child before and after school and when you are away from home. Always ask about where he is going and who will be supervising him. Let him know that it is always OK to ask to call home or come home if he feels uncomfortable at someone else’s home.

Young children should have supervision getting on and off the school bus, especially if the bus stop requires walking far from the school or your home. Teach your child about street safety, such as looking both ways before crossing the street and obeying traffic lights. Teach him to never cross the street without an adult’s help.

You can ask your child’s health care provider more about teaching your child rules to stay safe.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • When is a good time for my child to have an emergency-only cell phone? Is that a good idea?
  • My child tends to disobey me. How can I be sure he will follow safety rules?
  • My child was invited over to a school friend's house to play. How do I know he'll be safe there?
  • My child has special health care needs and rides the school bus. How can I make sure he gets to and from school safely?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

First Aid and Safety

All Around Safety

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vickers, Melissa; Anderson, Betsy; Dworetzky, Beth; Popper, Barbara. Bright Futures Family Pocket Guide: Raising Healthy Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Albuquerque, NM: Family Voices, 2012.

Street and road safety More Info
Street and road safety
What is this and why is it important?

Teach your child about street and road safety early to help him avoid harm or accidents. Young children lack the maturity, skills, and knowledge to safely cross the street alone. At 5 or 6 years old, your child can’t yet see cars using his side vision and can’t judge car distance and speed.

Teach your child how to stop at the curb and look both ways before crossing the street, and to only cross the street with an adult by his side. He should know how to use cross-walks and traffic lights to help cross the street safely. Talk to your child about road signs and what they mean.

Your child is still too young to ride a bicycle in the street. Make sure that when your child rides a bike he knows to always stay on the sidewalk. If your child walks or bikes to school or to the bus stop without an adult, know the route he takes. Note any possible safety hazards along the way and talk to him about how to be safe.

You can talk to your child’s health care provider about road safety.

What are common questions I can ask my health care provider?
  • What is the best way to teach my child about road safety?
  • How will I know my child will be safe when walking to school?
  • My child has a learning disability. Will he ever be able to cross the street safely?
Where can I find more information about this topic?

National Center for Safe Routes to School

An Interactive way to Learn about Road Signs

References

Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM, eds. 2008. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Third Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.