Parenting Awareness Month is a Michigan initiative to promote awareness, education, and resources - through state outreach and local efforts - emphasizing the importance of effective parenting in nurturing children to become healthy, caring, and contributing citizens.
Parenting Awareness Month is unique to Michigan and has been celebrated since 1993, said Katie Smith, Iron-Dickinson Children's Advocacy Network (CAN) Council Secretary.
Parenting Awareness Michigan provides guidance, materials, resources, and technical assistance throughout the year.
In celebration of Parenting Awareness Month, the initiative promotes locally planned parenting events in March, and education and resources for developing parenting skills year around.
Parenting Awareness Michigan celebrates people who are parenting children, and seeks to:
- Draw public attention to the critical importance of effective parenting across the lifespan.
- Raise awareness that effective parenting is a key factor in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention.
- Promote education and resources for developing parenting skills.
- Raise awareness that everyone benefits from parent education and support.
- Encourage and assist in the development of parent networks.
- Celebrate the month of March as Parenting Awareness Month.
- Promote locally planned events in March and throughout the year focused on parenting.
The Iron-Dickinson Children's Advocacy Network Council suggests a number of ways to be a good parent.
- Show children love, concern and respect at all times.
- Give children a safe place to live and play.
- Help children express all their feelings appropriately and listening to what they say.
- Give children appropriate choices whenever possible.
- Have reasonable rules that are understood by all.
- Be responsible and teach children to be responsible.
- Spend time with children.
- Set an example by what we say and do.
- Work with local schools and communities to make them better for children.
- Ask for help when needed. Call the Parent Helpline at 1-800-942-HELP.
To assist parents during a child's first years, other experts offer the following tips:
- Be warm, loving and responsible. When children receive warm, responsive care, they are more likely to feel safe and secure with the adults who take care of them.
- Respond to the child's cues and clues. Recognize and respond with sensitivity to the sounds, movements and expressions that your child makes. This will help you build secure attachments.
- Talk, sing, and read to your child. All of these interactions help your child's brain make the connections it needs for growth and later learning. Talking, singing, and reading to your child is not only important for brain development, but a wonderful opportunity for closeness with your child.
- Establish routines and rituals. Teach your child to know when it's time for bed by developing routines such as singing a song and pulling the curtains - daily routines associated with pleasurable feelings are reassuring for children. Repeated positive experiences provide children with a sense of security.
- Encourage safe exploration and play. As infants grow, they begin to explore the world beyond their care givers. Parents should encourage this exploration. While many of us think of learning as simply acquiring facts, children actually learn through-playing.
- Make television watching selective. Be selective and involved in your children's television habits. Whenever possible, watch TV with your child and talk about what you are viewing. Don't use TV of a computer as a baby-sitter.
- Use discipline as an opportunity to teach. As children explore their ever-expanding world, they need limits and consistent, loving adult supervision. Setting limits is intended to help and children, rather than punish them. When you respond in a supportive, consistent way, you are helping your child to feel safe in the world. Never hit or shake a child.
- Recognize that each child is unique. Children grow at different rates. Their ideas and feelings about themselves reflect, in large measure, parents' and care givers' attitudes towards them.
- Choose quality child care and stay involved. Choosing a child care provider is one of the most important decisions families make. Seek someone who responds warmly and responsively to your child's needs. Select someone who will give children individual attention and engage them in creative play and exploration. Carefully check provider's references. After choosing your child care provider, stay involved.
- Take care of yourself. Parents and care givers need care, too. Because you provide the primary environments for infants and young children, your health and welfare are extremely important. When you feel overwhelmed, take care of yourself. Reach out and get some help. Family, friends, neighbors, pediatricians, child health care providers and others - all can assist you in fostering your child's healthy development.
Parenting is a year-round, full-time responsibility.