40 Behaviors for Healthy Kids


Howard County General Hospital is celebrating 40 years of caring for generations!  In honor of that milestone, here’s a list of 40 healthy tips for kids.  How many are a part of your regular routine? Join us on May 18 for “Springing Up Healthy” at the Columbia Mall to learn more!


General Health

  1.  Be a germ fighter! Encourage children to use hand sanitizer and wash hands with soap and water before eating. Teach kids to sing Happy Birthday or the ABC’s while soaping up at the sink to ensure they wash for at least 15 seconds.
  2. Catch some Zzzzz’s. Lack of sleep in children can lead to irritability, anxiety and behavior issues.
  3. What’s up doc? Make your child’s annual well check a yearly must-do. These yearly visits provide your child with necessary immunizations, chart growth and physical development, and ensure developmental and social milestones are being met. Log on to hcgh.org to find a pediatrician near you.
  4. Seen and heard. Vision and hearing screenings should be a regular part of your child’s annual check-up. For a list of ophthalmologists, visit hcgh.org
  5. Save your skin. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Protect children’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun, stay away from tanning beds and promote sunscreen use to help minimize risks from sun exposure.
  6. Brush those pearly whites. Pediatric dentists agree that dental care should begin by one year of age, with a dental check-up at least twice a year. Check out the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s dental checklist to learn more about pediatric dental hygiene.
  7. Allergy alert. Food allergies have become increasingly common and some can be life threatening. Be prepared – learn more about what signs to look for in your child.
  8. Prevent poisonings. Accidental poisoning is a leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. Keep the Maryland Poison Center’s hotline number handy – 1-800-222-1222.
  9. Reveal how you feel. Help young children find constructive ways to talk about and deal with their feelings to help avoid anxiety and even depression.
  10. Tense times. Childhood anxiety is not uncommon; eight to 10 percent of children have anxiety disorders. Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Anxiety Disorders Program can help parents learn how to deal with and understand a child’s anxiety.
  11. Stranger danger. Teach kids early on not to talk to strangers. Children should learn to be aware of their surroundings and know not to go with any unfamiliar adults.
  12. Protect that head. Maryland law requires children under the age of 16 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Properly fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injury in children by up to 85 percent. Learn more at sha.maryland.gov.
  13. Know the signs of ADHD. One of the most common chronic conditions of childhood, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes it hard for children to control their behavior and can interfere with their daily lives at home and school.
  14. Up and at ‘em! Get out and move as a family – riding bikes, playing a game of tag or walking the dog together are easy ways to fit exercise into your day. Find other fun ways to stay active at stayactivehowardcounty.org.
  15. Be an engaged parent. Howard County has a number of programs, workshops and valuable resources for parents through the Howard County Family Institute, visit co.ho.md.us.



  1. Don’t wait- vaccinate. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about annual routine immunizations, including the flu vaccine.
  2. Is your seat safe? Contact the certified child passenger safety technicians at The Johns Hopkins Children’s Safety Center to install your child’s car seat correctly. The installation and inspection service is $10, or free for families who qualify. Call 410-955-6276. The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services also offers child safety seat inspections. Call 410-313-6090 to schedule an appointment.
  3. Mommies matter. HCGH has many valuable programs and wellness classes to help new mothers be successful. Infant care, breastfeeding and new mother support classes are held at HCGH throughout the year. Visit hcgh.org.
  4. Power to the family. Healthy Families Howard County is part of the Healthy Families America Initiative, a free, national program that identifies first-time parents in the community, aligns them with community resources and offers them support in their new role as parents. For information, visit hcgh.org
  5. Back to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Back to Sleep Campaign recommend that babies under one year of age be placed on their backs to sleep to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Learn more at sidscenter.org.
  6. Be book smart. Reading to your baby and toddler is great for bonding and it starts them on the road to a lifetime love of books. Read favorite books as part of your child’s bedtime routine.
  7. Practice safe sports! Approximately 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger are treated for sports-related injuries each year. Have children wear properly fitted protective equipment, including helmets, and encourage them to stay well hydrated. We hope that injuries don’t happen, but if they do, our Pediatric Emergency Room and orthopedic specialists are here when you need care.
  8. Be a team player. Playing a sport is not just great exercise, it also teaches kids about teamwork and respect, and encourages lasting friendships as well as self-confidence.
  9. Noggin know-how. If your child suffers a head injury, seek medical attention and know the signs of a concussion: neck pain, nausea, dizziness, balance problems and sensitivity to light. Following a head injury, talk to your child’s pediatrician for the “all clear” before returning to sports or other activities.
  10. Just say no! School-aged kids are not too young to learn about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. Find valuable articles and resources through Howard County Drug Free at hcdrugfree.org
  11. Drop that weapon. Teach kids about gun safety. Securely lock up guns and keep them away from curious little hands. Never keep live ammunition in any weapons in your home.
  12. Contents under pressure. The need to be liked and accepted by one’s peers begins at an early age. Talk to kids about avoiding negative peer pressure and the importance of surrounding themselves with good friends and support systems.


Pre-teens and adolescents

  1. Surf safely. Kids have access to just about everything, thanks to the Internet. Put parental controls on family computers and monitor the websites your child visits, including social media sites.
  2. Driven to distraction. Distracted driving can result in serious injury and even death. The dangers of texting and driving are real; set clear rules about no cell phone use while driving.
  3. Stop drunk driving. Learn how to talk to teens about the dangers of underage drinking and driving at madd.org.
  4. Ban the butts. Teach kids about the health dangers of smoking and provide them with a smoke-free environment. If you smoke, consider quitting with the help of HCGH’s Smoking Cessation program “Smoke Free Lungs.”
  5. Say no to bullying. Teach kids at an early age about the negative effects of bullying. A 2002 CDC survey estimates that approximately 30 percent of teens have been involved in bullying as a victim, spectator or perpetrator.
  6. Stick up for yourself. Kids who are interested in learning about self-defense will benefit from HCGH’s Kids Self Defense program where they are taught the basic principles of safety awareness and age appropriate self-defense techniques.
  7. Home alone. Is your “tween” ready to stay home alone? HCGH offers a free class called “Home Sweet Home” to help get kids ready.
  8. Adventures in babysitting. Learning how to manage young children and knowing what to do in an emergency situation will prepare teens for the responsibilities of babysitting. Take HCGH’s “Essentials in Babysitting” course.
  9. Let’s talk about sex. Talk to your kids about their changing bodies. Make sure to educate them about safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases, peer pressure and teen pregnancy.
  10. When to see a gynecologist. Young women can begin visiting a gynecologist at age 13 to 15, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but pelvic exams may not be recommended at that age. For a list of gynecologists, visit hcgh.org/findadoctor.



  1. Snack smart. Encourage children to reach for healthy foods that will satisfy hunger rather than the empty calories and fat of fast food.
  2. Be a healthy kid. Learn how to make a healthy, well-balanced diet part of your children’s lives at HCGH’s Springing up Healthy Kids Clinic at the Columbia Mall May 18.
  3. Shed the sugar. Join the fight against childhood obesity. Learn how to limit sugary drinks in your child’s diet at Howard County Unsweetened – hocounsweetened.org.


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