Parenting is an ongoing process that involves learning about your child and their specific needs. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parents are constantly learning and evolving to meet the needs of their growing child in the world we live in. Our resource below aim to guide and answer some parenting questions that you may have as you embark on the journey that is parenting. For general parenting questions please scroll down.
There’s no doubt that there are many people (especially your own parents) who are only too happy to pass on the benefits of their own wisdom. You will find that many people are very free with their advice, but do not offer much practical help. The advice can be welcomed and appropriate, but sometimes it isn’t, if only because it is out of date. Keep an open mind; even your pediatrician’s recommendations should come with some explanation. You may not put all that you hear in practice, but it’s polite to make a noncommittal statement along the lines of, “Thanks for your information, I will keep it in mind.”
Babies who cry constantly and cannot be consoled have colic. No one knows for sure what causes colic, but reducing stimulation around your child may be helpful. Some things to try:
- Keep lights off or turned low.
- Speak in a gentle voice.
- Swaddle your baby in a blanket. Swaddling is a method of tightly wrapping your baby to keep him/her warm and secure. .
- Carry your baby in a carrier that keeps him/her close to your chest.
For more ideas or support visit www.colichelp.com
The most important thing for you to do with a child who has colic is to give yourself a break when needed. If you do this, you will remain in control and able to tend to your child appropriately. Keep names and numbers of your support system nearby; turn to those numbers if the crying gets too much. Without any other option, take these steps:
- Set your baby in a safe and secure place.
- Leave the room.
- Take deep breaths-count-calm down.
- Call this number 211 The Children’s Trust Helpline for support if necessary.
- Once you have regained control, reconnect with your baby.
If you are concerned about the physical development of your child, talk with your child’s doctor. This can be done during the child’s regularly scheduled “well-baby” visits. Your child does not have to be sick for you to take him or her to the doctor’s office. Regularly scheduled appointments need to be routine in your child’s early years. This helps ensure that your baby gets the best care possible.
Get to know your child’s behavior. If your child acts “sick” or is unusually lethargic, drowsy or irritable, he/she might indeed be sick. If you think your child has a fever, take the temperature; don’t guess that he/she has one. If your child is vomiting (not spitting up) or refuses several feedings or has frequent bowel movements with mucous, blood or foul odor, consult your doctor. The more information you can provide to the doctor about the child’s condition as it differs from the norm, the better the doctor can prescribe appropriate action.
- Take a child’s-eye look at the living space available to your baby
- Are they any top-heavy items that might fall or be pulled down by your baby?
- Any electrical cords or outlets within reach?
- Any wires with frayed insulation?
- Any cords dangling down from a curling iron or steam iron resting on a counter?
- Don’t leave valuable breakables within reach of your mobile infant.
- Be sure to rearrange the kitchen so all cleaning compounds are above reach. Provide a place in your kitchen such as a low cupboard with baby’s kitchen toys, which can be a collection of old plastic, wood or metal bowls, cups and spoons.
- Check your houseplants to be sure that they are out of reach. To find out if your plants are poisonous and what the side-effects are, call 1-800-222-1222.
A child’s body must be physically ready to experience success at pottying. Your child will show signs of readiness when he/she is ready. Toileting is a complex process involving a number of steps — recognizing need to relieve bladder, pulling clothes down, sitting still for bladder to empty. Since so much is involved, it will be easier for you and your child if you wait to begin the process until you see signs of readiness, including:
- Child wants to be changed.
- Child is aware of wetting/pooping while in the process.
- Child can anticipate when they are about to wet/poop.
- Child shows interest when others use the toilet.
- Child imitates others in the bathroom.
- Child will occasionally sit on the potty.
- Child can pull pants up and down on his/her own.
- Child shows an interest in wearing underwear.
- Child shows a need for independence.
- Child will have a dry diaper for long periods during the day and after waking from nap.
Consider these signs to measure your readiness for the process:
- You have time and patience to respect your child’s learning space.
- You understand the complex process of toileting.
- You have the ability not to be upset by accidents. Accidents are an expected part of the learning process.
Ways to make toileting easiest for your child:
- Introduce the process during a time of stability. avoid starting the process when other major changes are happening for your child.
- Read children’s books with your child about the potty and the process.
- Involve your child in choosing his/her own potty and underwear.
- Teach your child appropriate words for body functions.
- Dress your child in clothing that is easy for the child to pull up and down.
- Be positive and encouraging.
- Respond calmly to accidents without punishing.
Being caring and consistent. Your relationship with your child creates a pattern that will shape all your child’s future relationships. This is why a child needs love, security, approval and acceptance from the start. A lack of these can affect a child’s self-esteem, achievements and capacity to be happy. Children learn by imitation, so setting a good example is vital. You must learn to trust your own instincts. You will soon know your child better than anyone.
- If you are at the point of losing control, take time out for yourself. This can happen to any good parent. You can do this by leaving your child with someone you trust while you gain composure or leaving your child in a safe space that you can supervise from a distance.
- Know yourself and what it takes to gain self-control. Deep breaths or talking with a friend who understands your frustration or physical exercise works for some people.
- Once you feel in control, reconnect with your child. Let your child know what you expect and how you would like behavior to change without insulting the child. Your positive example of finding self-control will teach your child more than words. Overreacting teaches your child to be fearful of you and closes off communication.
- Remember learning requires trial and error. It might take some time for children to understand and control their behavior and parents to master their skills. Notice your child’s effort to improve and compliment your child for it.
— Holly Zwerling
Every person must be able to trust other people so as to be able to function daily. Trust helps how we relate and interact with the world.
Babies and young children also need trust. As a child grows and interacts with the environment, he/she learns how to interact with others. The sense of trust begins very early. Your child learns to trust others, and how to interact with the world, by how his or her needs are met.
Crying is the normal way your child can communicate with others about his or her needs. Your child might cry because he/she is hungry or thirsty. Your child might cry to let you know that he/she is wet and needs to be changed. Or the crying might be due to gas or because your child is exercising his or her lungs.
Trust is developed by the responses given your child by her primary care- givers. It develops, or does not develop, through everyday routine happenings and responses. Your child learns that the world is a trusting place when needs are met. Responding to crying brings comfort and assurance that his or her needs are met. Babies must be able to count on their primary care-givers to be there for them. Consistency is important.
Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the crying continues. You’ve done all you think of, and still the crying goes on. Having and keeping a routine lessen the stress for both the young child and the parent. Even babies can get stressed. Keeping calm is important. Have a plan prepared that allows you to call on another caregiver to help with the baby when needed. A plan for needed back-up should be worked out before the need arises.
- Babies cry for a reason. They may be hungry, tired, in pain (for example with colic or gas), uncomfortable (for example with a wet diaper), overstimulated, or in need of social attention. Crying is the first signal that infants can give to adults that they need something. When their needs are met in a caring and competent way, most children stop crying.
- As babies grow, they learn other ways to signal adults of their needs and wants. Parents must watch for those signals. When they do, babies develop as they should, and a secure relationship is established between babies and adults. Crying becomes less frequent and is used only when a child reaches his limits of endurance or is hurt.
- When parents do not read their babies cues or heed their cries and attend to their needs, it makes for an insecure attachment or relationship between the parent and child. The child will feel uncertain and frightened. The child will continue to cry or resort to other unpleasant behavior in order to have his/her needs met or to get what he/she wants. Parents need to understand what a child tries to tell them even before that have words.
- Some children who cry a lot tend to have a fussy or “difficult” temperament. It may be harder to comfort them. They may resist cuddling or eye contact with their parent. There are ways a parent can handle such a child to make it easier for both the parent and child. For example, learn to swaddle such a child in a blanket, avoid overstimulating the child and do not move in too quickly on a child. For more information read Brazelton, T. B., Touchpoints, Reading Mass.: Perseus Books, 1992
- Other children may be very colicky or have another medical reason for discomfort that results in
- much crying. These children should be seen by their doctor who can provide more information.
- Remember, children cry for a reason. It is the adult’s job to find out why.
- Sometimes children want you to do something because they’re dissatisfied with their own ability and think you can do it better.
- Direct your efforts toward helping your child learn to do it for himself.
- Assess whether a task or game is at your child’s developmental level. If it is actually too difficult, provide help.
- Reassure your child that trying to do the best he/she can is what is important. Praise those efforts.
- Encourage — even help — without taking over.
- It’s an uphill battle with very young children. Children younger than 3 do not understand the concept of sharing. To share, children must be developmentally ready and trust that if they let go of something, it will return and not be gone forever.
- Young children are capable of spontaneous cooperation and sharing. You can see this when toddlers roll a ball back and forth between them or play “chase” and then reverse roles.
- With toddlers you can indicate the idea of sharing by simple games. For example, take turns putting one block at a time in a pail; if another child is present, encourage him to participate. Another idea is to exchange toys: You have a toy and your child has a toy. Pass them back and forth.
- Offer concrete solutions. One example: “One of you can ride the tricycle and pedal, and the other can ride on the back. Or you can take turns riding around and then switch off. Which would you like to do?”
- Always offer children the opportunity to help solve the problem. How could you both play together with the ball, bike, and so on.
- Be There: Let your child talk. What was his or her day like? Ask, “How did that make you feel?” Allow your child to openly express ideas, feelings and worries. Be available and listen.
2. Be Consistent: Establishing a clear and consistent routine helps a child feel safe and secure. Clear-cut rules help a child learn what is right and wrong.
3. Let Your “No” Be No.: If you say “No” to your child, make sure you both understand what that means and keep to the rule. Act quickly (within seconds) and firmly.
There is nothing wrong with a toy. Make sure that it is safe for the baby’s age and preferably a quiet one. It is common for an older baby to develop a dependence on a particular blanket, teddy bear or toy. It may be a good idea to have two identical ones if you possibly can, just in case the unexpected happens. Make sure that any “comfort toy” meets all safety standards.
Children who are held and comforted often during the first year of life demand less attention later on because they have learned to trust the adults in their environment to meet their needs and comfort them when necessary. Helping children learn to meet their own needs provides the foundation for emotional security. Holding a child who is upset will not spoil him or her; it will help the child become emotionally secure. Emotional security is the basis for a strong, socially competent child.
- Children typically go through periods of “testing’ adults and not following through with what adults are asking. Also, children younger than 2 or 3 often do not understand what is being said because they are too young to know what adults’ words mean.
- If, however, your infant or young child does not respond to sounds, he/she may have an ear infection that temporarily is blocking your child’s hearing. Or, your child may have a hearing loss. Either of these will cause a delay in your child’s ability to learn language. Talk with your child’s doctor about this .
- If you are sure that your child knows the words you are using, is not “testing” you and does not have a hearing problem, but still does not follow directions, he/she may have a problem with understanding language. If this is the case, your child’s talking will probably be somewhat delayed also. You may want to refer your child for further evaluation. Click on “I have questions about my child”
- By the time a child is 3, people should be able to understand a child’s speech most of the time. However, children of this age are still developing speech sounds and so they will not have mastered all of the consonant sounds especially “r”, “l”, “th” and “s.” Therefore, their speech will not be perfect. They should be talking in sentences of three more words.
- Sometimes mothers or other primary caregivers can understand what a child is trying to communicate by watching their facial expressions, movements such as pointing and by listening to their sounds. However, it is important at this age for you and for others to be able to understand most of what your 3 year old child says.
- If you have concerns about your child’s language development, click on “I have questions about my child”
Website for reference:
These children will not have any understanding of what is happening. They are sensitive to your emotional cues and responses. Be especially soothing. Offer gentle words and physical comfort.
These children will understand people being physically hurt. Highlight the people who are helping and reassure your child that you will keep him or her safe from harm.
These children might wonder if what they see is real. Answer their questions. They may need repeated reassurance of their own safety and security.
These children may act out what they have seen in their play. Ask questions and help your child see how different decisions could lead to different outcomes during their play.
These children might have a beginning understanding of the feelings involved. Talk about those understandings and encourage discussion about ways to help.
- Your child learns language by hearing others speak. You will want to provide a good model for your child by using simple, but appropriate words.
- Of course, all families have pet words for things and use endearments and references to objects that may sound like “baby-talk.” These have special meaning and certainly won’t interfere with a child’s learning of language.
Children learn by example. To encourage your toddler to behave well, you must be considerate, kind, honest and patient yourself. Give your toddler stability and love. Learning the boundaries of acceptable behavior is easier when there is consistency. If you do not allow your toddler to bounce a ball in the living room, do not let him/her do so when you have friends over. Reward your child for good behavior with hugs and attention — reading a story or take him/her on an outing. Your toddler needs is time with you most of all.
- At the end of the active day, when your toddler is becoming increasingly irritable or irritating, getting him/her fed and to bed – it will probably do the most good.
- When something is beyond him/her and frustration is mounting, you should provide redirection and reassurance.
- Don’t cave in to emotional outbursts that are clearly designed to manipulate you or change a decision you have made.
Disciplining your child means teaching your child. The greatest teaching tool you have is your ability to model for your child. Both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors are picked up by young children as they watch what you do and say.
The way you react to things and handle situations impacts how your child will learn to react to things and handle situations. You have an opportunity to teach your child some wonderful things — and especially in the most difficult times.
You can teach your child about problem-solving by working through the problems in an open and direct fashion. You can teach your child about feelings by being open and honest with yours. Talk about your feelings as they affect you and not how they relate to others. You can teach strength of character by carrying on with life.
What is important to you will be conveyed to your child by the way you live your life.
There are many activities young children are reluctant to do — for example, coming inside, washing hands, cleaning up, going to bed. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid a power struggle as you insist that a child do what you want. An excellent way to avoid such situations is to create transitions. Transitions divert the child’s attention from what he or she is doing and ease a child into the next activity.
Rhythm (such as singing, clapping, chanting) is an effective strategy to use to transition a child into an activity; for example, sing “washa-washa-washa” while washing hands. A parent also can introduce “role playing” into the transition by having children hop like bunnies, fly like birds or wriggle like snakes as they enter or exit a room; for example, a flying airplane makes a safe landing in bed.
Smooth transitions not only reduce the level of confrontation, but also are a conscious way for a parent to become involved in a child’s daily routines.
Children before age 3 rarely play with other children. They can play along-side others. Sharing does not come naturally to toddlers, especially with their prized possessions. Invite children to play at your home. Prior to the visit, ask your toddler which toys other children can use. Put away what he/she doesn’t want to share.
Take deliberate time to reconnect with your child at the end of a work day. If your day or drive has been stressful, take five minutes to sit quietly before running to pick up your child. Listen to your favorite radio station, take deep soothing breaths or lie on your back. When your stress levels and emotions are in check, you are free to connect with your child without distractions.
Some children are born with a predisposition toward shyness and inhibition. They are usually temperamentally slow to warm up to strangers. Most shyness is temporary in each new situation; however, shy children often tend to be somewhat shy as adults.
- Allow time for your shy child to observe each new situation or person.
- Do not force interaction, but when your child feels more comfortable, draw him or her into interacting by doing so yourself.
- Remain near to your child until he/she feels comfortable.
- Never make fun of or scold a child for being shy.
- Some children prefer playing alone or with one or two friends, but this does not mean they are overly shy.
- It is important that children are able to tell you when they want to play with others and when they want to play alone.
- If the situation calls for playing with others, you can:
- Prepare your child by telling him or her what is expected or about to happen.
- Provide play situations that require cooperation such as pulling and riding in a wagon.
- Remind children of previous successes.
- Help your child feel confident in what he/she does.
- If you think your child’s shyness is extreme, speak with your child’s early care and education teacher or doctor.
For more information visit:
Babies (Birth to 12 months)
Each child is a unique human being. There are some consistent behaviors that are observed in newborns.
Harvard pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., has studied and written extensively about newborn behavior and has described three basic types of babies. The following is a summary of behaviors and no baby’s behavior fits exactly into one type of behavior. What is important for parents to remember is that these patterns are all inborn variations of normal behavior, not the result of child-rearing techniques. Parents of young infants should use these as a guide to understand the newborn and how to establish a daily routine and interactions that are responsive to the infant’s behavior and growing needs.
Quiet babies sleep a lot — up to 18 hours a day, even while nursing. They may sleep through the night very early and sleep through feedings. They fuss or cry about an hour each day and may communicate their needs quietly by sucking their hands or wriggling in their cribs.
Active newborns sleep about 12 hours a day and spend the rest of the day crying and fussing. They are extremely sensitive to the environment, arouse easily and are slow to calm down. When they are hungry or upset, everyone knows it. They are intense at times when they are nursing on the breast or bottle — clamping down hard, gulping or swallowing air, then burping back part of whatever went down.
Average babies fall into the middle, sleeping 15 or more hours each day and crying and fussing about three hours a day. They are able to calm themselves down and back to sleep if aroused. They let you know when they are hungry, but settle down after they are fed.
Your baby’s behavior is a combination of nature and nurture. Babies come into this world with characteristics, of which you are aware from the first days after birth. The way you interact with your baby and your relationship with that baby is crucial to the way behavior develops.
A tantrum is an uncontrolled outburst — an expression of rage and temper that usually lasts several minutes. Some children scream, kick, stamp their feet, or even throw themselves dramatically to the ground. The peak age for a tantrum is 15 to 36 months. Most 2 year olds have at least one tantrum per week, but they grow out of them. When your toddler wants something, he/she wants it now and can’t understand the reason why he/she has to wait. A little patience can go a long way in reducing the number of tantrums that occur. When your child does have a tantrum, make sure that he/she comes to no harm. Try not to get upset. You are more mature and intelligent — remain that way. If you are at home when the tantrum occurs, turn your back on him/her or leave the room for a short time. Most often, the tantrum will stop because he/she does not have an audience. Make sure that your toddler understands that you will talk to him/her when he/she calms down. When your child calms down, hug and reassure him/her.
Temper tantrums are a part of normal child development — a child’s way of communicating by grabbing your attention. Tantrums can result from over-stimulation, hunger, boredom, tiredness or sickness. Tantrums often begin around 2 years of age and can last until 5 or longer. Tantrums show your child’s emerging independence and is a sign your child is growing up. Babies entering the toddler stage want more control over their lives.
They want to do things for themselves and make their own decisions. These are not always the best decisions; hence, an adult must guide to teach self-control.
Note these points about temper tantrums:
- Try not to yell at or hit your child. Remain calm and talk in a soothing voice. This will help your child regain self-control.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Being heard and understood helps your child regain control.
- Be consistent. Help establish independence by responding to your child in predictable ways.
- Many tantrums can be ignored. When possible, be firm and don’t give in. This will help your child understand limits. Once the child has calmed down, you can comfort and talk with your child.
- Have realistic expectations of your child. For example, don’t expect your active 3 year old to sit for a long time in a restaurant.
It is age-appropriate for children between 2-4 years to bite. Some children hit, some pull hair, some push and others bite. There are many reasons why a child will bite. By tuning into the child, you can pinpoint the reason and help the child learn more acceptable behaviors.
- Young children are learning how to express themselves. Biting sends a strong signal about something the child is trying to say.
- Help these children by giving them appropriate words to use instead of biting.
- Children learn through their five senses. Biting is another way to explore the world.
- Help these children by redirecting to them to appropriate alternatives.
Cause and effect:
- Some young children might not realize biting hurts. A child might bite just to see what will happen.
- Help these children by explaining the connection between the pain and the bite.
- Biting is a quick way to become the center of attention, even if it is negative attention.
- Help these children by giving attention when the child is showing appropriate behaviors.
- A child might see other children biting and decide to try it.
- Help these children being mindful of the limits.
- Young children regularly assert their independence. Biting can be a quick way to get a toy or make another child move.
- Help these children by modeling alternative behaviors to get the same result.
- Some children bite because other children have bitten or shown aggression toward them.
- Help these children by being consistent in your responses; do not let the aggressor get away with the act.
- Some children bite because their molars are coming in and biting relieves the pressure and pain.
- Help these children by providing appropriate teething toys for biting.
- Promoting positive development in children
- Close parent-child relationships are an important indicator of positive youth development. Youth who disconnect from parental influence are at particular risk for delinquent activities and psychological problems.
- Closeness to both biological parents is an important measure of positive development.
Your child’s brain begins developing within a couple weeks of conception the brain will grow to about 80 percent of the adult size by the age of 3 and 90 percent by age 5. While your newborn child is born with most of the brain cells he/she will need to function, it is the experiences that your baby has or does not have that help to finish the brain’s development.
Your child’s experiences, nutrition, and stimulation will have an impact on how the brain cells are connected and even which brain cells your child will keep.
The brain of a newborn has almost as many brain cells as an adult brain, but the brain does not function to its fullest capacity until the cells are connected. A newborn has only a small number of connections.
The further development of the brain occurs both as a result of interactions between genetic factors and the way the baby is taken care of.
While your child is born ready for feelings and ready to learn, early environments matter and healthy relationships are essential. For more information please visit:
By giving your children chores to do, you not only teach them to be productive members of the family but also teach them responsibility. Involve your child in choosing a chore to do. This encourages your child and gives the feeling of self-importance.
- Start teaching your child responsibility at a young age.
- Teach your child to pick up after each activity.
- Let your child help place a “job chart” on the refrigerator in a spot where he/she would like it to go.
- Always praise your child for a job well done.
- If your child does something on his own (without you asking him to do it), make sure you tell your child that you like when he/she does this. This will encourage more such behavior.
- Divide large tasks into smaller ones. A child is more likely to finish a project or task by breaking it up into smaller tasks.
- Give children specific time limits.
- Let your child help schedule daily chores and a homework routine.
Home visiting strategies are used for offering help to families in their homes. Family education and other efforts such as early educationally focused child care suggest the greatest gains can be made. Objectives of these programs include helping parents learn positive child-rearing techniques and effective coping skills, reducing stress and increasing home safety. This model of early intervention focuses on several areas:
- To assist parents at socioeconomic disadvantage to stimulate children.
- Low birth-weight infants.
- Maternal and child health, focusing on both medical and cognitive, needs for child and family outcomes.
- Treatment of choice for child abuse and neglect for both prevention and intervention.
- The prevention of out-of-home placement for children and youth.
- Focus on parental involvement in the relationship with child care and school settings.
Parental involvement is an indispensable part of any school readiness strategy. Eight principles in developing parent skill and parent education strategies are:
- Families must be partners.
- Programs and services share leadership with families.
- Families need comprehensive and responsive services.
- Culture and home language is acknowledged and respected.
- Communication is necessary; talking and listening.
- Knowledge and skill development is provided to parents.
- Appropriate care and education of children is taught.
- Evaluation of partnership success.
Successful interventions for parent skills and parent education using home visiting have these characteristics:
- Are intensive, comprehensive and flexible.
- Requires each part of the intervention to be built on or relate to the others.
- Focus on the parent-child interaction and on the relationship between the parents.
- Address the child’s physical and mental health and development (activities appropriate for the child’s age).
- Teach appropriate discipline techniques, and appropriate behaviors modeled by home visitors.
- Help parents build support networks.
- Can be health focused, paraprofessional focus, or via special teams such as Every Child Succeeds (Cincinnati).
Family involvement is perhaps the single most important social-environmental influence on children’s problematic behaviors. Family behavior is the most predictive of aggressive behaviors and attitudes by children. Much research identifies parental disciplinary practices as key components in the socialization process of problem behaviors and a significant risk factor for negative problem solving and behaviors.
Hispanic families have been described as more cohesive and authoritarian in parenting behaviors (Vega, 1990), and African-American families have been described as consisting of larger kin networks of support and influence (McAdoo, 993). These findings are helpful for planning interventions.
Prosocial community or neighborhood attachment is also important to good child and family outcomes.
Review of home visiting programs: A service strategy for parents and/or expectant parents in the home
- Improve outcomes of pregnancy.
- Promote children’s health and development.
- Strengthen families’ economic self- efficiency.
- Professional staff — Public Health.
- Home visitation by nurses from prenatal to 2 years after birth of first child.
- Targets low-income unmarried women.
- Promotes improvements in women’s health and development of children.
- Helps women build supportive relationships with family members and friends.
- Links women and family members with other needed health and human services.
- Training is two weeks in program model, 46 hours in assessing parent-child interactions, additional training as needed.
- Reduced child abuse and injuries.
- Reduced rapid successive pregnancies.
- Fewer maternal behavioral problems.
- Fewer sexual partners.
- Able to work, become economically self-sufficient.
- Children by age 15 had fewer arrests, less use of alcohol and drugs.
- Less effect on birth outcomes or children’s short-term development.
- Poor maternal weight gain.
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension.
- Lack of education.
- Inadequate family support.
- Inadequate prenatal care/or no prenatal care.
- Increased risk for domestic violence.
- More likely to be single parents.
- Less likely to finish high school.
- Less knowledge about child development and appropriate parenting practice.
- Higher risk of child neglect and abuse.
- Decreased educational achievement/not returning to school within six months.
- Increased dependence on governmental support/societal expense.
- Increased infant mortality.
- Low birth weight.
- Repeat pregnancies occur in 35% of adolescent mothers within two years of the first birth.
Increased incidence of:
- Low birth weight.
- Developmental disabilities.
- Poorer developmental outcomes than the offspring of older mothers.
- Deficits in cognitive and social development that can persist into adolescence.
- Lower levels of vocalization, touch and emotional nurturing.
- Harsh and rejecting discipline due to poor parenting skills linked with child anger, low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
The outcome of exposure to risks factors associated with young adolescent mothers during a child’s first three or four years of life can profoundly influence the development of the nerve connections and neurotransmitter networks of the child’s brain and lead to impaired brain development.
- 33% of these children drop out of school.
- 31% suffer from depression.
- 16% are incarcerated.
- 25% are at risk of adolescent parenthood.
Recommendations for Pediatricians
Pediatricians should provide continuity of care and a “medical home” for adolescent parents, as well as for their children. Adolescent parents need guidance, early childhood education and the teaching of basic care-giving skills. This guidance should include the adolescent mother and the infant’s father, when possible.
The pediatrician should facilitate coordination of a multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach to using community resources such as social services, nutrition programs, parenting classes, and medical and developmental services.
The pediatrician should promote breastfeeding by the adolescent mother and advocate for this practice in the school setting.
The pediatrician should counsel and advocate for contraceptive counseling during the pregnancy of the adolescent with an emphasis on long-acting methods coupled with condom use.
Pediatricians should encourage adolescent mothers to complete high school.
Pediatricians need to educate the adolescent mother on the importance of a healthy lifestyle for herself and infant. Education on effects of substance abuse and nicotine on the healthy growth and development of infants should be provided.
Risk of domestic violence should be assessed by the pediatrician during and after pregnancy visits.
The pediatrician should encourage and stress the importance of the adolescent parent caring for his or her own child. The adolescent parent then develops a true understanding of the demands of parenting.
Pediatricians should adapt their counseling to the developmental level of the adolescent.
Intensive instruction on infant care, human growth and development, discipline, and stress associated with parenting can be provided through office, clinic, home visits, or school settings.
Pediatricians need be aware of the community resources available to the adolescent parent and their infant. These may include home visits, prenatal, and infant classes, quality child care programs and programs for children with developmental disabilities.
Pediatricians need to provide positive reinforcement for adolescent parents who complete high schools abstain from the use of drugs, alcohol and nicotine; continue breastfeeding; keep the child’s immunizations current, and attend all well-child visits.
Encourage the involvement of the father in the child’s life.
What are the medical and psychosocial risk factors associated with adolescent mothers?
- Poor maternal weight gain
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Lack of education
- Inadequate family support
- Inadequate prenatal care/or no prenatal care
- Increased risk for domestic violence
- More likely to be single parents
- Less likely to finish high school
- Less knowledge about child development and appropriate parenting practices
- Higher risk of child neglect and abuse
- Decreased educational achievement/Not returning to school within six months
- Increased dependence on governmental support/societal expense
- Increased infant mortality
- Low birth weight
- Repeat pregnancies occur in 35% of adolescent mothers within 2 years of the first birth
Increased incidence of:
- Low birth weight
- Developmental disabilities
- Poorer developmental outcomes than the offspring of older mothers
- Deficits in cognitive and social development which may persists into adolescence
- Lower levels of vocalization, touch and emotional nurturing
- Harsh and rejecting discipline due to poor parenting skills which has been linked with child anger, low self-esteem and social withdrawal
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