Wash Colds Away...
What the Docs Do
Doctors might be privy to the latest research and technological advances, but does that mean they're better at preventing their children's illnesses and accidents than the rest of us? "Keeping kids healthy is a challenge for all parents, whether they're doctors or not," says Brooks Edwards, M.D., a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, and father of three, ages 11, 9 and 7. "In our house, my wife and I try to lead by example, and that goes for everything from eating right and exercising to wearing seat belts and bike helmets." What other tricks do Mayo Clinic experts keep up their white coat sleeves? We asked, and discovered a few you may not have thought of:Wash Colds Away
Studies have shown that regular hand washing helps protect against colds and the flu, so from the time my sons were able to stand on a step stool, we've made scrubbing up a priority. To make it more fun, I stock the bathroom with bubble gum-, watermelon- and peach-scented soaps and towels decorated with fish and basketballs. Now it's second nature to them.--Margaret Gill, M.D., a doctor in family medicine and mother of six boys ranging in age from 8 to 18 monthsStart a Family Fun Night
Once a week, our whole family goes to the Y for a night of swimming, basketball or batting practice. Or in the winter, we might opt for sledding or ice-skating outdoors. Not only is this a great way for us to spend time together, but I hope that by making exercise part of their routine, our kids will adopt it as a lifelong habit.--Philip Hagen, M.D., a preventive and occupational medicine consultant and father of a daughter, 15, and two sons, aged 13 and 10Make Veggies Count
We've turned getting our fruits and vegetables into a game. At dinner, we all count how many we've eaten so far that day. If anyone falls short of five servings, she can make up the shortfall during the meal. I knew my daughters had gotten the swing of it when Grandma came to visit and tried to claim the raspberry jam she had on her toast as a serving of fruit. The girls were quick to tell her it didn't count.--Karen Ytterberg, M.D., a pediatrician and mother of two daughters, aged 13 and 10Encourage a Talent
In first grade my son struggled with reading, and it destroyed his confidence. Meanwhile, he did well in sports. We found that excelling athletically in front of his peers boosted his self-esteem and helped to balance his problems in school. He also learned that every person has something different he's good at.--Sue Odegarden, child and adolescent psychiatry nurse manager and mother of a son, aged 11Find Your Teen a Confidante
Knowing teens have tremendous pressure on them, I encouraged my daughter to begin seeing a counselor weekly when she was 13. I wanted to be sure she'd have someone to help her sort out things if she didn't feel comfortable coming to me. My daughter appreciates the confidentiality but knows that if an issue ever arose that affected her health or safety, her counselor would ask me to come in, too.--Kathy Flippin, a nursing education specialist and mother of a daughter, 15, and a son, 12
Top photo: Soo-Jeong Kang. Second photo: Marc Berenson.