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• Consider getting a pet, to encourage physical activity and companionship.

• Engage the child in cooking, from meal planning and shopping to cooking and serving.

• Read with your child starting when they are six months old. Broaden their skills and abilities beyond watching TV or computer games.

• Foster positive relationships between your child and siblings, family members and friends.

• Offer your child steady support and encouragement as he tackles challenges.

• Don’t forget to say, “I love you” to children of all ages.

A final piece of advice I read years ago was to be sure to convey love to children even when they are moody, crabby, acting out or rebelling. The love can be “tough love,” but in the end, when a child asks his parent, “Will you be there for me?” the only possible answer is “yes.”

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at