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FOR RELEASE: February 8, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Choose Healthy Choices to Show Your Child "Love" This Valentine's Day

Physical, mental and emotional well being are all a part of good health for you and your family. And they are among the best Valentine's Day gifts that parents can give to their children, say state health officials. In the recently released The State of the State's Health report, the State Board of Health said about 3,500 more deaths occur in Oklahoma each year compared to the rest of the country – and many of these deaths are preventable.

"We need to focus our attention on healthy lifestyles like nutritious diets, consistent exercise, and tobacco use prevention, if Oklahomans are to show any progress in the fight against heart disease, cancers, or other tobacco-related health problems," said J.R. Nida, M.D., commissioner of health. "Valentine's Day gives parents a loving opportunity to come up with family time exercise and activities that will help their children make healthy choices in the future."

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics would like to share the following healthy Valentine's Day Tips with parents:

  • Cut your child's health risks by staying away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
  • Join your child in physical activities and offer healthy treats.
  • Help your child's early brain development by setting aside time for reading aloud to him or her.
  • Talk to your child's pediatrician and ensure your child's health records are all up to date with all required immunizations completed.
  • Check your home for hazards and remove them. For example: medicines, harmful substances, sharp objects and small hard or round foods should be out of reach of young children.
  • Remember the back seat is the safest place for healthy children under age 12 to ride. Insist children buckle their seatbelts and make certain infant seats are properly installed and used.
  • Ask your child's caregivers questions to ensure the setting is healthy and safe. Spend time observing your child in the setting to see if the child is happy.
  • Use positive words to nurture self-esteem and self-confidence. Pay attention when your child is talking to you about things that interest him or her.
  • Monitor your child's activities and enforce structure around homework time, mealtime and bedtime.
  • Set a good example at home and in public with good manners and in handling frustrations without name-calling or spanking.

Give your child a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection when your child is angry or in a bad mood. Remember to say, "I love you" to children of all ages.

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