Families know their children best—their behaviors, interests and abilities
But it is challenging for any parent to be an expert on all aspects of infant, child and teenage development or the most effective ways to support a child at each stage. When families are not aware of normal development and milestones, or they do not know how to respond to and effectively manage a child’s behavior, they can become frustrated and may resort to harsh discipline or emotional withdrawal.
There is extensive research linking healthy child development to effective parenting. Children thrive when families provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations,and safe opportunities that promote independence. Successful parenting fosters psychological adjustment, helps children succeed in school, encourages curiosity about the world, and motivates children to achieve. Parenting skills cannot be static; as children grow and mature, families need to change the way they respond to their children’s needs. In addition, parenting styles need to be adjusted for each child’s individual temperament and unique circumstances, and families need to remember that they have temperament types too!
Sharing strategies and resources to strengthen families
When families have shared their concerns and perspectives on their children, there is an opportunity to explore solutions and share resources. Educational materials about parenting and child development may help families assess their child’s development relative to others of the same age, have realistic expectations for their child’s behavior and explore ways to communicate those expectations effectively. Helpful resources for enhancing knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development may include information about:
Child and youth development
- What families can expect and look for as the child or youth grows
- The ability of children or teens to understand and control their behavior at different ages
- Addressing developmental challenges such as inconsolable crying, bedwetting, eating or sleeping problems, lying, school issues, problems with peers, and puberty
- How to keep children safe, including information on shaken baby syndrome, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childproofing strategies, appropriate childcare, and safety in the community
- How families can guide a child’s behavior and reinforce desired/appropriate behavior
- Ways families can model desirable behavior
- Non-punitive disciplinary techniques, such as setting limits, redirecting attention or behavior, and logical consequences for actions