At this time of year, I find myself saying thanks for a lot of things.
For example, I want to thank all the readers who have supported my First with Kids columns over the past few years. I, too, am thankful the columns have lasted this long and that people I meet tell me they find them helpful. But even more importantly, I want to thank the parents who have set great examples for their children by doing such things as:
▶ Wearing seat belts and bike helmets and insisting their children do likewise.
▶ Not smoking, or at least trying not to expose their children to the risks of passive tobacco smoke.
▶ Reading to their children every night or having their children read to them.
▶ Keeping their child’s scheduled appointments with doctors and dentists so that immunizations and other health screenings are on schedule.
▶ Safety-proofing and re-inspecting their homes for injury and fire prevention.
▶ Putting their babies to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
I hope that all children will be thankful at this time of year, too, for what they have — be it family, friends, teachers, food to eat and even clothes to wear. I also hope they think about ways to help others who may not be as fortunate. Finally, I hope that everyone will remember that improving the health of your children is a Thanksgiving feast unto itself and something for which we can all be thankful.
Dr. Lewis First is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.