Wash Colds Away...

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Be a Sugar Buster

I re-brush my kids' teeth each night to make sure all those hard-to-reach places are covered. I tell them I'm the Sugar Bug Exterminator, and if I don't do this, the "sugar bugs" will eat their teeth. My wife and I also don't allow sticky foods, including candy and even raisins and other dried fruits, which can promote tooth decay, after dinner.--Kevin Reid, D.M.D., chair of dental specialties and father of two sons, aged 7 and 4

Strut Your Stuff

Before dinner each night, our family goes for a two-and-a-half-mile parade around the neighborhood. We don't just walk, either -- the older boys often bike, inline skate, skateboard or ride their scooters. We have so much fun that the neighborhood kids like to come along with us.--Margaret Gill, M.D.

Control the Volume

Studies show that listening to a Walkman for as little as eight hours can cause some hearing loss, so I've taught my daughter to take a break once an hour. To let her know the most appropriate volume level, I placed a dot of nail polish on the dial of her Walkman. I'm also a big proponent of wearing earplugs, especially at rock concerts, which pose a particular danger to kids' hearing. My daughter and I wore them at the 'N Sync and Britney Spears shows, and she still had a great time.--David Fabry, Ph.D., an audiologist and father of a daughter, age 8

Set up a Big Buddy

Finding a good role model for your children, especially during the "I hate you" 'tween and teen years, is essential. One summer we arranged a Big Buddy for our son by being the host family for a 20-year-old semi-pro baseball player who had come to our community to train. The two often hung out together, and our son learned the importance of staying focused and working hard. In fact, our experience was so positive, I've since urged many friends and relatives to seek out mentors for their children in their own communities.--Sue Odegarden

Serve the Good Stuff First

To make sure our daughters eat their vegetables, we give them a helping before the rest of their dinner. That's when they're hungriest, so they gobble them up.--Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., a nutrition specialist and father of two daughters, aged 5 and 2

Provide a Reality Check

When I see articles in the newspaper about kids wrecking their cars because they were speeding or drinking, I show them to my children and we discuss them. Kids often think they're invincible, so this gives me an opportunity to remind them that while they should enjoy life, they need to be careful, too.--Brooks Edwards, M.D.

Ease in Tough Issues

Bringing my son to volunteer with me set the stage for us to discuss those who are less fortunate than we are. I explained to him that everyone struggles with problems, but that some people don't have anyone to turn to. It's helped us talk about tough issues like homelessness, depression and even drug use, and he's learned that if he ever has a hard time with something, it's okay to ask for help. These talks also have strengthened our relationship.--Sue Odegarden

Give all Foods a Try

When they think they're not going to like a food served to them, our kids know they have to abide by the one-bite rule and try at least a taste of it. Then, if they really don't like it, they don't have to eat it.--Robin Molella, M.D., preventive and occupational senior associate consultant and mother of a son, 6, and a daughter, 2

Walk It Out

When my son and I have reached our boiling points, I make him take a walk or a bike ride with me. After about 15 minutes, we've both burned off our extra adrenaline and calmed down enough that we can talk about our problem without getting angry. For my family, I've found exercise to be an effective coping mechanism to handle stress and anger.--Lucia Wocial, Ph.D., R.N.C., a neonatal nurse specialist and mother of a son, 7, and a daughter, 5

Brave the Weather

Our kids walk to school every day. It's only a few blocks, but, especially in the middle of winter, it can be a good workout. I don't want them growing up thinking that they need to drive everywhere they need to go.--Kevin Reid, D.M.D.

Compiled by Amy Zintl


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