Step by Step: Your Child’s Development
First, you are worried about your child’s growth and development. But before you know it, your child is heading to a childcare centre, followed by pre-school and soon preparing for primary school. You start worrying if your child is getting along with others, if his playtime is adequate or if he should be attending enrichment classes. I consulted our specialists from Raffles Children’s Centre and Raffles Specialists- Raffles Holland V on handling your child’s growing years.
The first day of school goes well. However, before you can say goodbye to your child on the next day, he starts to wail, clings on to you and refuses to enter the class.
“Separation anxiety varies from child to child but starts to appear just before a child turns one and may continue till pre-school age or beyond. This is a normal response. Help your child by being patient. Reassure him that each separation is only temporary and praise him when each episode is handled well. Seek help if his separation anxiety is very intense and affects him from usual activities like playing or going to school,” advised Dr Christelle Tan, Paediatrician, Raffles Specialists- Raffles Holland V.
Social skills and friends
While school is a place for education, it is also where your child learns to interact with others and develops social skills – an important factor in a child’s emotional health and well-being.
“Each child is unique and has a personality. There is absolutely nothing wrong if a child is inherently introverted. It is not a problem that needs fixing. Encourage him and give him a platform to make friends, like arranging one or two regular friends as playdates, and slowly expanding this circle,” shared Dr Veronica Toh, Paediatrician, Raffles Children’s Centre.
For parents who are worried that their child will be bullied, the main point is to constantly guide and teach them on what is appropriate and what is not. “Let him know that no one should ever have a right to hit him or verbally abuse him. He should speak up against the bully and where necessary, inform an adult,” added Dr Toh.
Your friend’s five-year-old child is able to read mathematical tables while your five-year-old enjoys living in the present. You wonder if he has too much play time and begin scheduling him for different activities and classes over the weekends – mathematics, language, martial arts etc.
“It is important that your child participates in various activities but ensure that they are not forced to participate in these activities. These classes help discover your child’s interests and encourage pursuance in the longer term. Some life skills such as swimming, cycling and running may be worth cultivating from a young age,” advised Dr Chitra Ramalingam, Paediatrician, Raffles Children’s Centre.
Nutrients are essential for a growing child to develop his physical and mental potential. How can you ensure he is adopting a healthy eating habit and is having sufficient intake of nutrients?
“The best way is to plot his growth percentiles on a growth chart. If your child’s growth is adequate and his development is normal, there is generally nothing to worry about. If your child eats a balanced diet from different food groups and has a variety of different textures, tastes and colours, there should not be an issue with nutritional or vitamin deficiency,” advised Dr Chong Jin Ho, Paediatrician, Raffles Children’s Centre.
It never seems to end – fever, flu and cough. You have lost count of the number of times that your child has fallen sick. You start giving him supplements in hope of boosting his immune system but he still seems to be falling sick too frequently. You start searching up your child’s symptoms online, and get worried by what you read.
“Even during mild viral illnesses like a common flu, there can be high swinging fevers and young children may refuse to eat or drink during this period of time. Online searches may lead you to rare and fatal diagnoses that are not applicable to your child. What can be reassuring is knowing what danger these symptoms or signs will bring, and bringing them to a doctor early,” advised Dr Tan.
It is bedtime but if you have a child who does not want to sleep, your sleep time gets affected too. A good night’s rest ensures proper mind and body development but if sleep quality is poor, it results in irritability and grumpiness in both you and your child.
“Watch your child’s diet during the day. Limit the intake of energy and fizzy drinks as they contain caffeine that can affect sleep. Avoid these drinks post lunchtime. You can also encourage physical activity during the day to help them fall asleep at night, but avoid exercising just before bedtime. A warm bath, bedtime stories or a warm glass of milk could help them to sleep better,” advised Dr Chitra.
Toy store tantrum
Toy stores are great playgrounds for children but they can be a nightmare for some parents. He wants a toy but when you say “no”, it sends him into a meltdown, crying and insisting. You are suddenly in the spotlight among passers-by.
“Let him understand that he is not entitled to have whatever he fancies and the consequences (eg time-out) should he start a tantrum. Give him a warning if he starts a tantrum. If he persists, bring him out of the store and execute the time-out technique (staying rooted at a boring spot for a few minutes). If he refuses, hold him there gently but firmly. Be consistent and do not give in just because you are in the spotlight. Otherwise, that will only encourage him to do the same in the future,” shared Dr Chong.
Foreign body ingestions (FBIs)
The age of 18 months to three years old is where toddlers come to appreciate their new-found freedom. Their natural curiosity will inevitably lead to mouthing objects and some of these are unfortunately swallowed. Most items swallowed should pass through the alimentary system uneventfully. Commonly ingested foreign bodies range from coins to safety pins and keys. Dangerous items include sharp objects, button batteries and water-expandable toys.
“Keep the home environment safe by not leaving dangerous items lying around. Provide the child with age-appropriate toys and also be mindful of how the batteries are secured in toys. Educate him on what is a toy and what is not. Seek urgent medical attention if he develops symptoms of choking, vomiting or abdominal pain,” advised Dr Joyce Chua, Specialist in Paediatric Surgery, Raffles Children’s Centre.
First Aid box
“It is useful for each household to maintain a personal first aid box that includes items such as plasters / band aids, burn cream and microtape.” – Dr Goh E Shaun, Specialist in Emergency Medicine, Raffles 24 Hour Emergency.
Is Your Child a Band Aid Addict?
Teach your child that band aids and plasters are for people who have injuries. If he has a cartoon plaster, educate him that a band aid has to be thrown away once his injury gets better, and when the pain is gone. Keeping the dirty band aid on might cause the wound to get infected, thus causing more pain.
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