Resources for parents, family members, and educators of young children
If you have young children in your life – whether you are a parent, grandparent, foster parent, family member, caregiver, early childhood educator, home visitor, or parenting educator – these resources are for you! Parenting is hard work and all families can use support from time to time. These websites offer families support by sharing information on child development and parenting strategies, providing families with resources related to quality child care, and more. Use them to support your own family or share them with the families in your life!
University of Wisconsin Extension
What we like about this website: The University of Wisconsin Extension website includes newsletters for parents and families in English and Spanish. Newsletters are divided into categories, including, “Preparing to Parent,” “Parenting the First Year,” “Parenting the Second and Third Years,” “Parenting the Preschooler” and others. Newsletters offer month by month parenting resources, strategies, and more!
NAEYC for Families
What we like about this website: The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a leader in ensuring quality childcare. Their families page provides resources for families related to finding quality childcare as well as information on supporting children’s healthy development. Sign up for the families newsletter or read timely articles.
Zero to Three
What we like about this website: Zero to Three provides a range of resources and articles for parents and families of young children, including age-based tips from birth-36 months, and articles on special topics (e.g., grandparents and extended family, military and veteran family support, positive parenting approaches).
Vroom: Every parent has what it takes to be a brain builder!
What we like about this website: Vroom provides tools and activities to support children’s brain development in innovative ways. Families can download a free app that provides daily tips, subscribe to the Vroom newsletter, or browse articles on brain development and activities to try at home.
What we like about this website: This website hosted by Oregon State University’s Extension program offers “Kid-Approved Healthy Recipes” in English and Spanish. An A-to-Z list of recipes is provided that can be sorted by categories like “5 ingredients or less,” “30-minutes or less,” or “kid-approved.” You will also find free coloring sheets and a monthly family newsletter on this website.
by Kathy Gunter Ph.D and Emily Tomayko Ph.D.
The holidays are a time for families to create new traditions and share long-treasured observances. It is also a great time to share activities that promote holiday (and everyday) health behaviors that will enable everyone to enjoy those family traditions in good health for years to come.
A great deal of media attention and research has focused on the rise in childhood obesity and the negative health effects associated with excess weight. It is now quite clear that the risks for many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep problems, asthma, and depression, are increased for children who are overweight or obese compared to healthy-weight children. There is also mounting evidence that overweight children struggle academically and socially in comparison to healthy-weight peers. Today 1 out of 3 children and teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese. For most growing children, weight loss is not the recommended approach. Instead, physicians and researchers recommend curbing children’s weight gain through healthy eating, increasing active play, and reducing sedentary time—all things that parents can do with their children to ensure they grow into a healthy weight and develop behaviors that support health. For children who are already at a healthy weight, encouraging these behaviors early will promote lifelong health.
We are both obesity prevention researchers and parents (of a “tween” for Kathy and a toddler for Emily), so we think about these issues daily. What strategies can parents adopt at home to reduce these risks for their children? And, more importantly, how do parents address healthy behaviors in the midst of a holiday season where the work, school, community, and media environments encourage sitting, eating and drinking, rather than playing actively and enjoying enough (but not too much) of our traditional family recipes? Research shows that there are many aspects of the family home environment that influence our children’s risk for obesity. The good news is that the influence can have beneficial rather than harmful effects. In this month’s blog, we share simple strategies that can produce big rewards this holiday season and beyond. What a great gift for your family – the gift of health.
When the weather gets a little cooler, it’s hard not to think of our favorite holiday foods: pies, holiday cookies, Nana’s green bean casserole, or the peppermint mochas (Kathy’s personal challenge!). And it is okay to indulge a little, but over-indulging and sitting more (like interacting with new electronic gadgets or watching favorite holiday movie classics) promote unhealthy behaviors. Here are a few tips to promote healthy eating and activity for families over the holidays:
One of the best, and probably most challenging, things a parent can do for their child’s health is to model these healthy behaviors—both during the holidays and throughout the year. Parents want the best for their children’s health, but shouldn’t shortchange their own health in the process. Cheers to health and happiness for all families this holiday season!
For some more information check out the following resources:
Let’s Move: http://www.letsmove.gov/
Kathy Gunter is an Associate Professor in Kinesiology and Family and Community Health in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
Emily Tomayko is an Assistant Professor in Nutrition in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
In honor of Family Literacy month, the focus of this month’s blog is on how children’s language and literacy skills develop. Language skills begin early in infancy and are constantly being developed throughout childhood. Parents are one of the best resources to help their children build their language and literacy skills.
There are several ways parents can help their infants lay the groundwork for language and literacy. First, parents and caregivers can talk with their infants and ask them questions (even if the only response they receive is “Ah!” or “Ooooh!”). This back and forth helps infants learn about communication patterns. Whether the infant is silent, or practicing making sounds after being spoken to, they are learning about the give and take of conversation. They are seeing that they are being listened to! Also, when parents use words, they are introducing proper vocabulary to their infant. Parents can start reading to their infants at any age – whether it is a children’s book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a menu in a restaurant. Infants love the sound of their parents voices and start seeing that there is more to a piece of paper or book than just something to rip and tear and put in their mouth (which we know they like to do as well!). Reading together is also a great way to bond!
Toddlers are often verbal and can start to string words together to express what they see or what they want or need. Parents, or other caregivers can act as translators to others. To help toddlers with their language skills, parents can continue to have conversations with their toddlers and give them a chance to respond in their own words. Parents can then repeat what they heard their toddler say. This helps the toddler learn language structure. For example, if a toddler is asked if he/she wants to go to the park and the child responds: “Slide!” the parent can respond with “It sounds like you do want to go to the park. You love the slide at the park!” And of course, parents can continue reading to their child. Toddlers love to be hands-on and can point to pictures they see and help turn the page!
In early childhood, many children are able to string together simple sentences and are becoming even better at communicating effectively. Parents can continue to support language development by holding conversations with their children and asking them to reflect on their experiences and actions. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to encourage children to practice their vocabulary (“What did you eat for snack today?”). To help lay a strong foundation for literacy and reading, parents can talk (or sing!) about the alphabet and start to point out the letters they see throughout the day (“Look at that sign! I see a big S. Can you find the S?”). While reading to their children, parents can ask children to talk about the pictures they see and make predictions together about what might happen next. Parents can also stop and ask questions to see if their children understand what is going on in the story (“What happened that made the wolf so angry?).
At all ages, modeling language and literacy skills by having conversations with children and reading and singing together is a wonderful way to help children practice and develop these skills themselves.
For more resources on Language and Literacy Development check out these resources:
For the September and October OPEC blogs, we are going to be sharing the voices of Oregon State University students who took a course on “Parenting Research and Application” (HDFS 312).
Students were asked to respond to two questions in their final discussion for the class:
We shared student responses to question 1 in September and are now following-up with their responses to question 2.
Parent education NEEDS to be invested in. Parents are raising the next generation who will care for our communities and these young children need to be shown love and responsiveness by their parents. Raising children is difficult but the more knowledge we have about their development and the needs that each age has the easier it is to understand their behaviors and react appropriately. There are no classes or textbooks that are mandatory before having children, but the more knowledge we acquire the better we can prepare for what is required of us as parents and what to expect from our children.
Yes. I believe that all high school students and college student should take required credit courses on human development and parenting. This introductory knowledge would open young adults up to better understanding their phases of growth and the emotions and turmoil that they may have experienced during youth or puberty. It would also play an important role for them if and when they themselves become parents because they will remember their semester learning about babies, young kids and young adults and this could be a positive influence when deciding which parenting style to adopt based on information provided in school.
Yes, absolutely. I think parenting education is valuable at every stage of development. For parents of newborns it would be very beneficial to understand that picking up your crying child does not spoil them but provides them with secure attachment. Some parents may not realize this. As pointed out through this course many of us parent like we were parented. Gaining greater insight as a parent can certainly do no harm. I know I did. The section we read on “fair ways to fight” definitely made me reflect on my own style of “fighting.”
I do think we should invest in parenting education. I think it is awesome for parents to want to learn more about what exactly their children are going through at what moments and what they can do to help further their growth processes. There’s so much to learn and it is impossible for every parent to know it all, but parenting education could open so many doors to opportunities some parents never even would have known about.
I think that investing in parenting education would be the best thing we could do for families. I believe that if parenting education was more known and accessible that education for children would be more of a positive outlook. I think there is nothing wrong with raising awareness for parenting education, and I think parents would only benefit from these programs.
I do think that we should invest in parenting education. Based on what we have learned through this class about the difference that parenting education can make, it does not make sense to continue shoving parenting education aside. It has such a negative connotation tied to it because it implies that a person does not know how to parent if they need parenting education. It is important to let people know that attending parenting education classes will only help them in their parenting and open them up to new ideas and methods because, let’s face it, no parent gets through life without having problems with their child.
Parenting education can provide support for new and experienced parents. All parents want what is best for their child. Wanting the best and doing what is best, are two different approaches. By investing in parenting education, parents are given helpful tools to encourage character in their children.
Yes I think that we should have parent education. There is a lot of research showing that parent education helps the development of children and prevents juvenile delinquency later in life. It helps the parents understand social, emotional, physical development through every stage. There are so many ego centered and dramatic things that children do that a lot of people have a hard time understanding, but that all comes with knowing the different developmental stages that they go through. Children are ultimately our future and how they grow up really shapes them. These are people who we will be putting into our society and they need to be nurtured, respected, and understood.
Based on what I have both learned, and experienced, we definitely do need to invest in more in parenting education. The committee I am currently apart of are working on a grant proposal to fund additional trainings for us facilitators to meet the needs in our area, specifically our alcohol and drug addiction and recovery population. As stated in the lecture, every child deserves an effective parent, but how can a parent know what is and isn’t effective when raising their child? New parents aren’t give a manual after leaving the hospital. When I am at my wits end, I have sought help from Google and blogs written by fellow parents in the same predicament. The desire for parent education is out there, the only difference parent education classes bring to the table, is that it isn’t on a web page.
I think we should invest in parenting education because parenting is not an innate ability. It’s common to hear from young parents that they’re just “winging parenthood,” but that’s not necessarily the most correct thing to do. Raising a child is not a hobby; it’s a lifestyle and a job. In order to get a good job in the real world, you need to go through years of education. Parenting should be seen similarly, and I’m honestly super happy that I chose HDFS as my second major because it’s given me tips on how to raise my own future children.
Absolutely, I think all parents should take the time to get educated about their child’s development. If you think about it, how can parents raise a child not knowing how their child’s brain works? what affects them positively or negatively? It seems like a gamble that I’m glad I didn’t play.
We really need to invest in Parenting Education now or we will end up paying for it down the road. Children need effective parents and so does our society. When we invest in such programs, it will pay back in huge dividends and in many, many positive ways. Children who have been raised to be loving, secure, respectful members of society, likely give back to society. Children need to be socialized and Parenting Education programs can help teach and guide parents to do just that. I hope that the Federal Government will look to the parenting education and application research and see that the 150 million dollars spent per year on the Healthy Marriage Initiative would be better spent on Parenting Education, and not just exclusive to those who are married with children. The Healthy Marriage Initiative leaves out an astounding 40 percent of children being raised by unmarried parents. Research shows that as long as children’s needs are being met (and these are well defined) the family structure does not matter.
Of course we should invest in it! Because the problems in our communities will never get better (only worse) if we don’t address them at the core…the family. Research has proven that prevention and early intervention can improve the lives of children, who will grow up to be the parents of the future.
Since long before I enrolled in this class I have thought that parenting education would be immensely helpful in our society. In the past 8 weeks, I’ve only grown more supportive of this idea–the profound influence that we have on our children and their lives is far too important to take for granted. Not to simply target populations of parents that have no frame of reference on parenting or know what they are doing, parenting education is something that everybody in our society could benefit from. Individuals should not have to attend college in order to have a more in depth understanding of parenting techniques and child development when it is such a ubiquitous experience in our global population. There are plenty of people in this world who do not have access to basic resources and knowledge needed to be a successful parent–it should be expected for those of us who will have children or work with children to know everything we can in the face of their development and progression as a human. To put it simply, our knowledge or lack thereof does not end with us, it is recycled continuously through our next of kin–future generations deserve to have opportunity at being a responsible, respectful, and contributing member of society.
It is of no question that the investment of parenting education is exceptionally important. We invest in knowledge by investing in each other. We mustn’t forget that we all start somewhere; the power of knowledge is real. The parent who wishes to acquire more knowledge for the benefit of their child is not a bad one.
I absolutely think we should invest in parenting education. Especially for those enter into parenting either be accident, or find themselves in a stressful situation. Not every parent has a co-parent to rely on, or extended family or friends to help them out along the way. I think it is important to offer classes, support groups, and facilities where any new parent can feel comfortable going to to get information, advice, and tools to help them out.
Yes, I think that we should. More than that, let people know it’s available. Get the word out. People, even parents, will not really know anything about child development and parenting unless they’ve learned it, been taught, or sought out the information themselves. I believe the best chance at reducing child abuse/neglect, reducing teen pregnancies, encouraging child development, and building stronger parenting skills MAY be found in parenting education. Education is the answer to many problems. “When you know better, you do better”. If we can measure the effectiveness of these programs, it’s worth it.
I do believe we should invest in parent education. Especially because of family of origin. So many of us base our future parenting skills on how we were parented. So if we can educate parents about child development and get them the best knowledge on how to raise children then we would have a better probability of raising competent children who will turn into successful adults.
Based on what I’ve learned, I definitely think we should invest in parent education. If a parent is not educated when they have their children, it will affect their children in different ways. If their parents are prepared and are ready to be parents, then it’ll be a chain reaction and they will be able to raise their children like they know they can. I think that investing in parent education is also like investing in educating children, and that is always important.
I absolutely believe we should invest in parenting education. Building a better world for our children starts with how we raise them now, and every parent can benefit from learning new skills and techniques that can help them make the best decisions at each stage of child development.
I definitely think we should invest in parenting education even if not financially, emotionally and mentally. Parenting education is primarily understanding your kids and ways to communicate with them so it shouldn’t take up much financial resources but it takes time. Once parents understand to be flexible and authoritative, their relationship with their kids will be amazing and it will even set out examples for their kids to follow when they become parents later on.
I will soon be working as a parent educator and I think it is 100% necessary to invest in parenting education!! This is the core of our society and communities, if we have healthy successful parenting, we are going to have more resilient healthy children who can better contribute to the community. Parenting education should not only be available for at risk and high risk families, it should be for all parents. It’s okay to lean how to play an instrument or do a sport, and start from not knowing how, and taking classes and learning and improving, and I think that it should be the exact same way with parenting. Parents need to learn how to parent just like they need to learn how to do a new hobby. Learning is important for success.
I really do think we should invest in parent education. There are so many people that are uneducated when it comes to parenting which leads to neglect of the child or abusive behavior from the parent since they weren’t educated on how to deal with their child a proper way. I am also in support of anything that will help the world population go down, teen pregnancy plays a factor into that and if we can lower that rate then it would be a huge help. Parent education is important and raising a child is a 24/7 responsibility so why not get educated in something that will be apart of you the rest of your life?
I believe fully we should invest in parenting education! When you want to go hunting or drive a car you must take classes and prepare since you could potentially harm someone, shouldn’t ti be the same for parenting? Not only can potential parents harm someone, but they are responsible for every aspect of their initial development and deserve all the support and education possible in such an endeavor.
For the September and October OPEC blogs, we are going to be sharing the voices of Oregon State University students who took a course on “Parenting Research and Application” (HDFS 312).
At the end of the term, students were asked: What is the most useful piece of advice/information you have learned from this course that you think would be helpful to parents/caregivers?
Here’s what they said!
The most useful piece of information I learned is…
…that there is not one “right” way to parent. While there are many methods and techniques to be a great parent, each child is different and it is important that parents realize that they must work with their child and really understand who their child is. The best way to do this is through creating strong, open communication lines. That is the glue that holds together parents and children. –Cheyenne Fasana
… that the first years of your child’s life is the most critical. I have learned so much about how important it is to talk to your child and to let them talk to you. I have also learned that parent education isn’t as well known or accessible as I think it should be. I have learned so much from this course, and I have already shared so much of this information with family and friends, I can’t wait to keep spreading what I know. –Anonymous
… that parents are their child’s biggest role models. Each child learns so much in a very fast amount of time, and parents have the biggest hand in what they learn. Parenting is hard work, but it can also be extremely rewarding and fun if you teach your child how to swing the ropes of life properly. It’s scary to think that a child is so dependent for many years on a parent, but with the right tactics and the ambition to ask for help, a child can be successful. –Brooke Meyer
… that there are so many different resources available to parents if they need it. A parent who is having their first child is able to find any sort of class that they might need if they feel like they need help preparing and that is a really great thing. –Anonymous
… that I think it is important for parents to know is that there is no such thing as “bad parenting.” Sometimes people may make a bad parenting decision, but that doesn’t mean they are a bad parent. It’s life, and we all make mistakes when it comes to raising children. Every parent has been there, every parent has a “bad parenting” moment. Also, I think all parents should partake in all of the numerous parenting sites/ classes that are available to them! There is so much to learn about your child that can help them in more ways than you may even know. –Morgan Cross
… that there are many forms of discipline. As parents, when we become upset with an action that our child does, we need to stay calm and avoid using inconsistent, irritable, low involvement, rigid and physical punishment. When disciplining, we need to be disciples and remember that our children follow our example. When children are loved unconditionally and reinforced by desirable behaviors, children are going to want to do what is asked of them because they love and respect their parents just as their parent’s love and respect them. -Karalee Behling
…the stages of child development. I believe that if more people understand the natural tendencies for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school ages up to young adulthood, more parents would find solace in knowing that each is a natural phase of growth and approach the ebbs and flows eager to guide their children through the phase as gracefully as possible. –Anonymous
… the use of natural consequences in parenting versus other forms of discipline. I think as a parent it is so hard to follow through at times and let your child experience that consequence. We do not like to see our child upset or suffer. I think it’s an important concept that stepping back and letting your child experience that consequence provides a learning opportunity for them, and that’s not a negative thing. –Anonymous
… explained in First Compassion, Then Teaching by H. Wallace Goddard. Goddard describes that sensible rules should include at least the following, ”(1) Be careful about the rules you make. (2) Consistently enforce the rules you make. (3) Use consequences (4) Keep the relationship positive. (5) Give children lots of real choices.” I feel like these rules serve as simple reminders, or guidance, to parents and caregivers. -Stephanie Khauv
… how to pick out proper child care and cognitive development of an infant. To me infants are the most challenging to figure out. It is important to know how their mind develops and how you can nurture, and communicate with them at an age when communication is challenging. I really found all of this class useful. I think that any information about children and life is something that every person could use. –Anonymous
… the tips for healthy fighting. Looking over the list I was able to see what strategies my family used when I was young and what I want to improve with my children. I didn’t realize how important it is to truly listen to your child. Also the week we learned about different parenting techniques and how some parents ignore their children and that could make them sexually active at a younger age. SCARY! I’ll remember that forever. –Anonymous
…that more than any other type of parenting style, I learned that when we use an authoritative style of parenting, children are more likely to grow to be caring, respectful, contributing members of society. This means parents need to be nurturing, develop a secure attachment as well as be high in responsiveness and high in expectations- but with reason and explanation. These valuable and effective skills can be acquired from the many evidence based Parenting Education Programs in existence today. Nobody is born knowing how to parent; parenting is a learned skill. Parenting Education is for everybody and our children and society highly benefit from it now, and most assuredly in the future. –Angelynn Proctor
… the breakdown of the different parenting styles. While mentioned in numerous of my previous HDFS classes, I think the intensive and descriptive teaching on each style and it’s effects on the both the child and child-parent relationship has really helped me understand parenthood. Not only in the context of my own desire to have children one day, but also in my career and my relationship with other individuals. In the last couple weeks, I have been unconsciously analyzing myself, my family and friends, my clients even–and making connections between their personality/behavior and the relationships they share with their parents. With my youngest clients especially, this has been incredibly beneficial as I work with both the child and their parents. In order to successfully help families work together when their conflict resolution skills breakdown, it’s incredibly valuable to be able to understand the root of certain tensions and problems within the family dynamic. –Anonymous
… that in a world in which poverty is continuing to rise and resources are rapidly disappearing, the importance of communal effort is paramount for the well-being of our children. People need to know they are not alone in their struggles. The saying “it takes a village” is of much significance in the realm of parenthood. Advocacy for our youth and the betterment of our adults is vital in diminishing the gap of dysfunction and instability. The benefits of such programs far outweigh the negatives. One should not feel shamed in asking for assistance; after all, it is for the sake of raising confident and resilient children. It is of no question that the investment of parenting education is exceptionally important. We invest in knowledge by investing in each other. We mustn’t forget that we all start somewhere; the power of knowledge is real. The parent who wishes to acquire more knowledge for the benefit of their child is not a bad one. -Amanda Sampson
As an educator, I think it is important to start as young as possible when it comes to teaching kids any and all skills they will need when they start school. That includes academic skills, sharing, following directions, following the rules and being respectful to others. Ask questions, share advice and never be afraid to discipline your kids in a loving and respectful manner. –Anonymous
…to seek more information. Always learn new things and best practices, especially when it comes to caring for children and encouraging their development. After loving them and caring for them, there is so much that can be done to ensure they grow into loving, caring, productive human beings. You have to seek out this information. Some aspects of parenting are ingrained, but parenting and child development is so much more complex that it appears. If we are to give children their best chance and give society a fantastic addition, learn all that you can about parenting and child development. -Anonymous
…probably the information on parenting children with special needs. I want to be a teacher, so it was really great to read all the content on the subject. I especially liked the topic of not labeling a student as a “blind student” that their disability does not make define them. This is definitely something I will make sure to be aware of in my classroom. –Anonymous
… to take your time and be patient with kids, especially when you’re raising them to build their own personality with their morals and ethics. A lot of parents nowadays are way too busy working to provide for their family, which is justified because of the rising costs of living, it’s still important to not forget about your kids and just let daycare teach them what they need to know. It’s important as parents to have a basic foundation with your children so you can have open communication with your kids as it will make parenting a lot easier when they understand you. –Tracy Tran
… the perspective of the children, and how we need to acknowledge this and accommodate for it. Kids and adolescents are more likely to act in certain ways because of where they are in their development. –Anonymous
…is the social bond that you need to develop with you and your young child. Doing beneficial activities together help increase the bond between the parent and child. Examples would be like playing friendly games together or washing the dishes, cooking dinner together. –Anonymous
The best thing you can do for your kids is to be there for them. From talking to your baby as you feed him, to being there to answer questions as he cooks a meal for the first time, to listening to him talk about a problem at school as you drive together — these are the moments that give your children a strong foundation from which to succeed. Never underestimate the incredible impact responsive parenting has on raising a healthy, happy, well-adjusted child. -Michelle Tennant
I think one of the most pertinent things from this course was the unit on facilitating optimum cognitive and psychosocial development in adult children. Understandably the focus of parenting is often on the younger years when things are new and parents struggle the most, but support often waivers after adolescence leave parents to try and figure things out on their own while not obtaining new information and fresh ideas. This unit allowed for a perspective that isn’t usually covered and is too often overlooked. –Nichole LeSage
The information provided in this course is all useful. If there was one particular piece that I would hope parents could utilize the most, it is that there is no set path to raising a child once the secure foundation has been provided. Just as every mother will encounter a different birthing experience, every mother will raise a different and unique child, even if they have more than one. A method or technique used with one, might not work with another. Just be patient, and try something different, and never be afraid to ask for help. –Anonymous
Watch for Part II in OPEC’s October blog!
by Shauna Tominey, PhD
One day when my daughter was about three-and-a-half, we were walking together toward our car talking about her day at preschool. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man making his way toward us from across the street. His clothes were torn and unkempt. His hair was wild and his beard was littered with debris.
I tightened my hold on my daughter’s hand, quickened my step, and avoided eye contact as I hurried by, giving all of the signs I could that I would not engage. I breathed a sigh of relief as he passed without so much as a glance.
As we reached the car, my daughter asked:
“Mom, did you see that man?”
“His leg was hurt.”
“How do you know that?”
“He walked funny and had a cane. I hope he is okay.”
The tension I felt making a beeline for the car melted away in that moment. With her words, my daughter taught me an important lesson about empathy.
In my haste to protect my daughter from a perceived threat, I put my own sense of empathy on hold. Although I convinced myself that this man might be a threat to our safety (he wasn’t), the real threat was that he made me feel uncomfortable.
In exchange for saving myself that discomfort, I gave up an opportunity to be the parent that I want to be – the kind of parent who models empathy and kindness, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. Even if all I had to offer was a connection through eye contact or a smile, I could have made another choice – the choice my daughter made to consider the feelings of another human being.
For children and adults alike, empathy matters. Empathy relates to many positive outcomes, ranging from increased pro-social behaviors and cooperation1 to better learning and higher academic outcomes.2
In my past position as the Director of Early Childhood at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and in my new role as an Assistant Professor of Practice/Parenting Education Specialist at Oregon State University, a significant part of my life has been and still is devoted to teaching empathy. What I learned from my daughter is that I have more to learn. When it comes to showing empathy and kindness, we can all be better and do better.
So what can we parents/caregivers and educators of young children do to model and teach empathy? Here are a few ideas!
At this time in our world when societal tensions are high, laying a foundation for empathy feels especially pressing.
A few weeks ago, my daughter overheard a man asking people walking by to buy him a sandwich because he was hungry. She stopped and opened her lunch bag. I had seen this man before with his bloodshot eyes. On other days, I had chosen to walk around him.
Standing with my daughter that day, I made a different choice. The choice to be the model that I want to be. My daughter held out her applesauce and spoon and I said, “my daughter heard you say you were hungry and wanted to share her lunch with you.”
Much to my surprise, the man got down on his knees, looked my daughter in the eyes and gently said, “Thank you. You did the right thing today by sharing. Your mama taught you right. I’m not going to take your lunch because you’re a growing girl and you really need it. I’m already grown. I’m big and I need a big sandwich, but don’t you worry about me. Someone is going to share a sandwich with me soon. Just know that you did the right thing.”
He stood up, gave me a big grin, and gave my daughter a big thumbs up. I apologized for not having money with me to buy him a sandwich. He smiled back, “Don’t worry about that. Just keep teaching your daughter what you’re teaching her.”
I will never forget the lesson in empathy and kindness I learned that day both from my daughter and from our new friend, “Mr. C.” Sometimes as parents, we step out of our own comfort zones for our children. This was one of those times for me and I am grateful that I did.
Mr. C. now smiles and waves whenever we pass his corner. He never asks for money, but always gives my daughter a big thumbs up. I smile and wave back and stop and buy him a sandwich when I can.
I find myself wondering daily: what can I do today to teach my daughter about empathy? Although this is an important question, maybe I should also be asking myself: what will I learn from my daughter about empathy today?
How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy
How Parents Can Cultivate Empathy in Children
In March of 2016, the college of Public Health and Human Science prepared a report on the state of Parenting Education in Oregon for 2015. Below you can find a short excerpt from the abstract and a link to the full report:
In 2009, Oregon State University conducted a study, A Snapshot of Parenting Education in Oregon, commissioned by The Oregon Community Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation19. This study found that parenting education efforts in the state were fragmented. A web-based directory of organizations offering parenting education programs was created from survey respondents. Beginning in 2010, a wave of systems funded through both private and public investments have evolved to better address the needs of families with young children. The present study, also commissioned by the foundations, sought to better understand the current efforts in parenting education in order to determine if there had been changes in those endeavors since 2009, as well as update the directory of parenting education programs.
The 2015 findings indicate that parenting education opportunities are available to some degree in all 36 Oregon counties and are offered by a variety of organizations. The needs of families with younger children appear to be better met than those of parents with middle and high school age children. In addition, there are unmet parenting education needs for a variety of other parent audiences. Respondents expressed their concerns about reductions in public funding for parenting education and said that their programming demands far exceeded their available resources.
Escrito por: Guadalupe Díaz, Cesiah Vega & Dr. Karen Thompson
Los padres cuyos hijos son Estudiantes del Idioma Ingles (ELL por sus siglas en Ingles) a menudo tienen muchas preocupaciones sobre el desarrollo del lenguaje Inglés de sus hijos. Muchos mitos rodean el desarrollo del lenguaje Inglés que puede crear confusión, por lo que es difícil para los padres saber cuales son las mejores estrategias para apoyar a sus hijos. Hemos recopilado las cinco preocupaciones principales que hemos escuchado en varias ocasiones de los padres sobre el desarrollo del lenguaje Inglés de sus hijos. Vamos a hablar abajo sobre cada una de estas preocupación basado en las investigaciones más recientes.
Muchos padres se preocupan que si le hablan su lenguaje nativo a sus hijos hablar en su ellos se retrasará en lenguaje y el crecimiento académico. investigaciones actuales muestra que hablar un idioma nativo puede construir la base del lenguaje que los niños necesitan para aprender un segundo idioma. Una vez que los niños han desarrollado una sólida base lingüística en su primera idioma van a estar mejor preparados para aprender Inglés.
Es un mito muy común que el aprendizaje de dos idiomas puede confundir o agobiar a un niño, pero basado en investigaciones actuales es todo lo contrario. La mayoría de los niños de todo el mundo aprenden más de un idioma. Los niños tienen la capacidad de distinguir entre los dos idiomas a través de diferentes señales para decidir qué idioma es el mas adecuado para utilizar en cada ocasión. Aprender dos idiomas no causará retrasos en la habilidad del niños de aprender Ingles. Además, las investigaciones ha demostrado que el aprendizaje de dos idiomas tiene beneficios cognitivos, socio-cultural, y económicos.
A menudo los padres comparar el desarrollo del lenguaje de sus hijos a otros niños para evaluar si se están desarrollando adecuadamente. Es importante recordar que todos los niños se desarrollan a ritmos diferentes y hay diferentes etapas de la adquisición de una segunda lengua. Las diferentes etapas pueden ayudar a entender donde los niños están en el desarrollo del lenguaje Inglés y la forma de ayudarles a mejorar sus habilidades.
A menudo, cuando los niños no hablan Inglés a cuando terminan la escuela prescolar o el Kinder los padres se preocupan que sus hijos se están quedando atrás. La realidad es que los niños necesita un promedio de 4-7 años para tener fluidez en Inglés. Aprender dos idiomas es un trabajo duro y tenemos que dar a los niños el tiempo suficiente y el apoyo adecuado para dominar los dos idiomas.
Cuando los padres están tomando la decisión de inscribir a sus hijos en programas de Doble inmersión les preocupa que sus hijos se quedarán atrás académicamente y aprenderán Inglés a un ritmo más lento. Las investigaciones ha documentado los beneficios a largo plazo de inscribir a los niños en programas de Doble Inmersión.
Por ejemplo, las investigaciones científicas muestra que, a largo plazo, los niños que están aprendiendo inglés (ELLs por sus siglas en Ingles) tienen más probabilidades de ser competentes en Inglés y dominar el contenido académico cuando están inscritos en programas de Doble Inmersión en vez de programas de Inglés solamente. Además, los programas de Doble Inmersión son más eficaces en cerrar la brecha de rendimiento académico entre los estudiantes que están aprendiendo Ingles (ELLs por sus siglas en Ingles) y estudiantes que ya hablan Ingles.
Para mas información sobre como apoyar a los niños que están aprendiendo ingles (ELLs) valla a:
http://www.colorincolorado.org/es/home (Recursos en Español/Resources in Spanish)
by: Guadalupe Díaz, Cesiah Vega & Dr. Karen Thompson
Parents whose children are English Language Learners often have many concerns about their children’s English language development. Many myths surround English language development that can create confusion, making it difficult for parents to know the best strategies to support their children. We have compiled the top five concerns that we have repeatedly heard from parents about their children’s English language development. We will address each concern based on latest research.
Many parents worried that speaking their native language to their children will delay language and academic growth. Current research shows that speaking a native language can build the language foundation that children need to learn a second language. Once children have developed a strong language foundation in their first language they will be better equipped to learn English.
It is a common myth that learning two languages can confuse and/or overwhelm a child, but based on current research the opposite is true. Most children around the world learn more than one language. Children have the capacity to distinguish between the two languages through different cues to decide which language is appropriate to use in each context. Learning two languages will not cause delays in children’s English language acquisition. Additionally, research has shown that learning two languages has cognitive, sociocultural, and economic benefits.
Often parents compare their children’s language development to other children to assess whether they are developing appropriately. It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates and there are different stages of acquiring a second language. The different stages can help us understand where children are in their English language development and how to help them further their skills.
Often when children are not speaking English by the end of preschool or kindergarten parents become concern that children are falling behind. The reality is that it takes children on average 4-7 years to become fluent in English. Learning two languages is hard work and we need to give children enough time and the appropriate support to master both languages.
When parents are making the decision whether to enroll their children in dual immersion programs they worry that their children will fall behind academically and they will learn English at a slower pace. Research has documented the long-term benefits of enrolling children in dual immersion programs. For example, research shows that in the long-term, children who are English Language Learners are more likely to become proficient in English and master academic content when they are enrolled in dual language immersion programs rather than English-only programs. Additionally, dual immersion programs are more effective at closing the achievement gap between English language learners and non-English language learners.
To find more information on supporting English Language Learners go to: http://www.colorincolorado.org
http://www.colorincolorado.org/es/home (Recursos en Español/Resources in Spanish)
One of parents’ big concerns when raising their children is finding the most effective ways to ensure their children are happy and successful members of society. The guidance provided to children from their parents forms the foundation for their interactions with their family, friends, peers, and other adults. Studies have shown that effective parent-child guidance interactions require three components: positive, supportive relationships between parents and children, established strategies for teaching and encouraging good behavior, and strategies for decreasing or eliminating undesired behaviors. Positive Guidance refers to a set of techniques that use those three components.
Positive Guidance encourages parents to use clear and positive language, establish realistic expectations, set consistent rules and limits, give simple choices, and act as role models.
Here are some examples and applications of Positive Guidance Techniques that can be used when interacting with children:
When talking with children it is important to tell them what to do rather than what not to do. For example, a child is running from the kitchen to the living room, they should be directed to “Walk in the house.” If instead a child is told “Don’t Run” that leaves plenty of other activities a child can do that might be equally inappropriate. The child could hop, skip, jump, or push their way through the home and still be following the guidance of “Don’t Run.” However, by saying, “We walk in the house” a child is given a clear example of how to move when inside. In the future, when the child doesn’t need the verbal reminder to walk, parents should use positive reinforcement language by saying, “I like how you safely walked from the kitchen.” This positive attention for a job well done will help encourage the desired behavior.
Understanding what a child is capable of and what they can handle at their age is very important. It is natural for toddlers to become emotional when something doesn’t go their way, they are just learning how to process their emotions. Parents and adults should talk about emotions openly and use “I” statements to help children identify what they are experiencing and use clear directive language if need. For example, “I can see you are angry, but you need to use your words and not your hands.” Additionally, any changes to a child’s routine can have major implications on behavior. A missed nap time, or late meal can impact a child’s ability to process an otherwise regular task. It is important for parents to manage their expectations appropriately, and look at their child’s behavior in the context of the environment they are in.
While it might not seem like it, children like and need clear rules and limits. What is important for parents to keep in mind is that those rules and limits need to be consistent. For example, if video games are not to be played at the dinner table, then that needs to be clear, and enforced. Even if it is a struggle, parents need to hold steady. Otherwise children will continue to look for exceptions or ways to get what they want. That can lead to tantrums. If a parent gives in to a tantrum and lets their child play video games at the dinner table, then it teaches the child that by continued protests they will eventually get what they want.
It is a natural part of development for a child to gain a sense of independence and want some control in what they do. This can be challenging when what a child wants to do doesn’t match with a parent’s desires. One area that can be a common struggle for parents and children is getting ready in the morning. A child might not want to brush their teeth, or might want to wear shorts and sandals when it is cold and raining outside. To try and alleviate some of the struggle, parents can offer children a set of appropriate choices. In getting the child dressed a parent could say, “Your shorts and sandals are great on a hot sunny day, but it is cold and rainy today and need to wear pants to stay dry and warm. Would you like to wear your blue jeans or khaki pants today?” While this can be upsetting to the child that they cannot wear what they initially wanted, they are given clear explanation why their choice might not be the best today and gain back some control of the situation by choosing a pair of pants instead.
Children are like sponges, they absorb knowledge from all of their everyday experience that then shape their own behavior. Parents and adults need to model the types of behaviors they expect from their children.
By understanding and using Positive Guidance techniques, parents are equipped with a tool set that can greatly help the development of their children. Studies show that the use of positive guidance techniques can lead to having toddlers who have better self-regulation skills, are less aggressive, have fewer behavior problems, are able to adapt to change, and have better moral reasoning skills.
Krachman, Robert. “Positive Parenting.” Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. April 17, 2014. http://blog.harvardvanguard.org/2014/04/positive-parenting/.
McKee, L. et al. Harsh Discipline and Child Problem Behaviors: The Roles of Positive Parenting and Gender. Journal of Family Violence 22, 187–196 (2007).
Saunders, Rachel, Laura McFarland-Piazza, Deborah Jacobvitz, Nancy Hazen-Swann, and Rosalinda Burton. “Maternal Knowledge and Behaviors Regarding Discipline: The Effectiveness of a Hands-on Education Program in Positive Guidance.” Journal of Child and Family Studies 22 (3) (2012): 322–334.
Wolraich, Mark L. Aceves, Javier Feldman, Heidi M. Hagan, Joseph F. Howard, Barbara J. Richtsmeier, Anthony J. Tolchin, Deborah Tolmas, Hyman C. 1998. “Guidance for effective discipline.” Pediatrics 101, no. 4: 723. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection
Zeijl, Jantien, Judi Mesman, Marinus IJzendoorn, Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg, Femmie Juffer, Mirjam Stolk, Hans Koot, and Lenneke Alink. “Attachment-Based Intervention for Enhancing Sensitive Discipline in Mothers of 1- to 3-Year-Old Children at Risk for Externalizing Behavior Problems: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 74 (6) (2006): 994.