Knowledge of parenting; an important protective factor – Part 2
Children don’t come with a “how-to” manual; learn why a base knowledge of parenting and child development is an important protective factor.
March 10, 2014 - Author: Gail Innis, Michigan State University Extension
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that, when present, mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. Six protective factors have been identified by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This article will explore the protective factor titled “knowledge of parenting and child development;” a natural and learned skill.
Acquiring a new major appliance today generally involves some research before making a purchase. Consumers explore brands, prices, energy efficiency, ease of use and maintenance, and other factors. Most come with a thick manual (or one to access online) that includes section after section of information on how to use and take care of the appliance. Bringing home a new baby or introducing a new child to your home environment generally seems as though it should be natural to caregivers, but most babies often arrive with only a pack of sample diapers, a quick review of car seat safety and lots of pamphlets. There is no “how-to” manual that includes a troubleshooting section.
Having knowledge of parenting practices can assist you in having reasonable expectations for children as they grow and develop. Knowing when and where to look for help when you have a question or concern can assist in reducing your stress. Learning about positive discipline techniques can help support you in your role as a child’s teacher. Michigan State University Extension recommends the following ways that you can improve your knowledge about parenting and child development.
- Seek out and utilize the expertise of experts who can advise you on your child’s health and wellbeing; physical health, mental health, emotional health and socialization skills. Keep well-child appointments with your child’s physician. Seeing and getting to know your child when he is healthy can assist medical staff in knowing when something is wrong.
- Take advantage of parenting classes, workshops and support groups where you can learn about what to expect as well as how to handle difficult issues that may come up. Your local school district and MSU Extension can assist you.
- Find support in friends, relatives and other parents who have been there in similar situations. Sometimes just being able to talk with someone that you trust for advice when you have a concern with your child or her behavior can help.
- Take advantage of the many resources at your local library, on the web and from service agencies and staff. MSU Extension recommends exploring information that can assist with ways to strengthen the protective factors for you and your family. Some websites that you may want to explore for information that comes from solid research include Zero to Three, e-Xtension, the Search Institute and NAEYC.
- Ask for help! You are the expert on your child. Early On recommends, “Don’t worry. But don’t wait” if you have a developmental concern about your child. If your concern is physical, contact your family physician for expertise on physical health or a referral to an expert.
Having a basic understanding of how children develop, knowing how to satisfy their needs and learning what skills you will need for parenting and caregiving are all important tools that can strengthen families. Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and he was right. Education can indeed change your world and that of all the children in your life.