Six Ways To Give A Child A #GoodBeginning
⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛
Every year, organizations and individuals across the United States recognize April as National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Originally signed into proclamation in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, awareness efforts have shifted over the years, but one thing remains the same: giving children good beginnings.
According the Cabell County Family Resource Network (FRN) in Cabell County, West Virginia, the pinwheel symbol is used for child abuse prevention efforts because it’s a positive representation of a child’s future. Pinwheels are planted in gardens across the nation.
I was very fortunate to have a wonderful childhood with caring parents and individuals who put my best interests at the forefront. Then, when my sister came along, I had someone to play Barbies with and someone to adhere to my master lists of rules for my room (haha, right). Now, even after the rose-colored glasses of childhood have faded, I am able to help with my sister’s daughter. There’s nothing I want more than my niece to have a great childhood and life in general. I hope that she is WAY smarter and more successful than I am, and I devote my efforts to making her have a #goodbeginning in myriad ways. When I have my own children, I will most certainly do the same!
During the Week of the Young Child (April 16-20) and year-round, this is how you can support #goodbeginnings for a child’s first 1,000 days and beyond, as stated by the Cabell County FRN:
1. Understand how a child grows and develops.
The human brain doesn’t stop growing until age 26, but the early years are the most formative for your child. A child’s early experiences and overall brain structure (genetics, etc.) shapes his or her foundational building blocks for learning, behavior and health. Brains grow over time, and everything doesn’t happen overnight. The Harvard University Center on the Developing Child says that during your child’s first few years, more than one million new neural connections form every second. Help construct your child’s brain by being as engaging as possible, even when he or she is a newborn. Talking, playing, singing, reading, and infant massage are all viable options!
2. Help a child identify his or her feelings.
Your child’s mental health matters. And sometimes, it’s easy to overlook when your child is in distress. Don’t shy away from having the easy — and difficult — conversations with your child. If you’re noticing your child feels overly anxious or worried, can’t concentrate, loses interest in hanging out with friends, isn’t grooming and other symptoms, you should talk with him or her. Mental health affects babies in the womb as well. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne (Australia) states that from conception, children feel protected and in a safe environment:
“The [fetus] uses cues provided by their mother’s physical and mental states to ‘predict’ the kind of world they will be born into, and adapts accordingly. This adaptation can be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on the child’s relationships and environments.”
3. Spend caring “quality” time with them.
In today’s digital world, it could be challenging to step away from your smartphone and the television and streaming devices. And there’s nothing wrong with your child being a technological genius before the age of one; however, it is recommended to limit your child’s daily screen time. According to Consumer Reports, you can set rules — but be sure to follow them, too. If your general rule is no phones at the dinner table, then be sure you’re leading by example and not playing on your phone, either. Emergencies, of course, do happen. Be sure to talk with your children and take them on real-life adventures, like to the park. One-on-one interaction is essential to your growing child.
Here are some ways you can spend time with your child! Peruse these great ideas on Cabell County FRN’s Pinterest page.
4. Be strong in times of stress.
Every parent or caregiver knows what it’s like to experience stress around a child. Sometimes, it takes everything to manage your child and your own stressful thoughts and emotions. Your child looks to you for guidance, and it’s important to remain as calm and strong as possible when stressful situations arise. For example, if you’re a new parent and can’t calm down your colicky baby, you could tend to panic. What do you do? How do you calm down your baby and keep your own cool? What is wrong with you? Are you a bad parent? First and foremost, practice positive thinking and self-talk. When you fixate on negative thoughts, that influences your behaviors and subconscious being. Try your best to remain positive with yourself and others; it can greatly help you if you find yourself in a stressful situation, like a crying baby or when your child brings home a less-than-stellar report card. Know your triggers and how to manage them. Also know your child’s triggers as well. If yelling at your child makes the report card situation worse for the both of you, try engaging in a helpful conversation where you attempt to get to the root of the report-card problem.
5. Have positive relationships of parents helping parents.
I’m not a parent yet, but I know the advice roulette wheel is for REAL. You never know if you’re going to get good advice that actually helps your child or if someone is silently (or not so silently) judging you for a parenting decision you’ve made. It’s sometimes challenging to find a positive network of parents helping parents. No strings attached. Just a shared goal of more sleep and money! (Ha.) Rely on those you trust to help you cope when things get challenging and also celebrate your parenting wins. This could be a parent, friend, co-worker, spouse… anyone who advises you when you need it.
Several local organizations, depending on where you live, can also help you pinpoint your specific needs and help you find other parents who are in the same boat as you. The Cabell County Family Resource Network keeps updated resources on its website to ensure parents are getting the support systems they need, including meeting other parents to swap stories and build relationships. Magazines and blogs, like Parents.com, also contain a wealth of knowledge and tips.
6. Know how to find help when you need it.
Resources exist in every community, both in-person and online. If you’re anxious about asking for help, try your best to get over the stigma. Asking for help can change the lives of you and your child. Here’s a list of resources that will give you a head start if you’re searching for ways to help your child have a wonderful first 1,000 days and life in general:
- Prevent Child Abuse America
- Cabell County Family Resource Network
- Support the cause with Twibbon
- TEAM for WV Children
For more information about Good Beginnings and Child Abuse Prevention Month, check out the Electronic Press Kit below.
Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC
Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV.
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