The Basics of helping prevent child abuse in your everyday life

Perhaps you’ve seen blue pinwheels spinning in the green spaces of local businesses, parks, and community organizations. That’s because April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the pinwheel is a symbol of the happy, healthy childhoods all children deserve.

The Basics are all about giving every child a great start in life. Though often seen as a private matter, research shows that the impact of abuse and neglect extends far beyond the home.  It causes a ripple effect of abuse and trauma throughout our communities and institutions. Sadly, many children have early experiences that do not provide a great start in life or an adequate school readiness foundation. Fifty-six percent of children who tested “not ready” on 3rd grade standardized tests were victims of documented abuse or neglect. Those children are likely to fall behind, to drop out of school, to be unable to support their families, and to later abuse their own children.

We believe that the cycle of abuse is preventable and this is one of the many reasons that early experiences matter! We also believe in the power of resilience. We know that even one loving, supportive relationship in a child’s life can help them overcome the effects of adverse childhood experiences. Every child deserves a great childhood. This is something we can all agree upon. And if every child deserves a great childhood, then every person in our community has a part to play in creating great childhoods for all the children of our community.

You might be thinking,  “What can I possibly do to prevent child abuse? What expertise do I possibly have to help a child become resilient?” We want to empower regular people you toward everyday intention. We don’t believe that child abuse prevention should be a separate part of our lives. Rather, we believe that difference-making should be woven into the fabric of our everyday rhythms.

Here are four simple and meaningful ways you can help prevent child abuse, right where you are.

1. Pay attention.

To the mom or caregiver in the grocery store at 5:30 p.m. with four kids and circles under her eyes. The one who’s running on fumes and has a toddler falling apart in the checkout line. Notice her. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Buy her a cold drink from the checkout cooler. Your compassion may provide the crucial pause she needs to make it through the day without taking her stress out on her children.

2. Care for new moms (and dads.)

Every new parent is vulnerable to breakdown. When parents experience ongoing stress, chronic exhaustion or postpartum depression, they’re far more prone to striking out at their children. New parents are weary. And single parents are particularly at risk. This is why we need one another. Take them a meal. Do their laundry. Offer to babysit. When you lighten the load of a new parent, you help prevent child abuse.

3. Give generously. What do you have that someone else needs?

Parents both above and below the poverty line suffer from financial stress that piles on top of everyday burdens, threatening the stability of their family and the stability of their emotional health. When that happens, the safety and security of children are also at risk. There are families in need all around you. Do you have resources that can ease someone’s burden?

4. Know that just one supportive relationship can literally change a child’s life. Or a parent’s.

What’s the #1 way we can support resilience in children? The answer may surprise you. Relationships. Research shows that the difference between a really bad childhood and being able to overcome that, and a traumatic childhood and someone not being able to overcome that, all boils down to having a healthy connection with a supportive person. Relationships provide the love, support, and connection every child needs to help combat the effects of stress, whether it’s the stress of daily life or experiences that are traumatic.

And the same holds true for parents and caregivers. You might be the one person that caregiver has. Seek to listen, to be a shoulder to cry on. Speak life-giving, encouraging words. Believe in them. Help them. You are more than a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a Sunday School teacher, a nursery volunteer. You are a life-giver and possibly even a life-saver.

Let’s partner together, in everyday ways, as we work toward safe, loving, responsive homes and communities for our youngest learners and their caregivers.

You may also enjoy: How "The Basics" Support Resilience in Children

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for an overview of The Basics. 
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

 


The most important thing when reading to baby + 7 simple tips!

Perhaps you’ve heard that you should read to your child from the time they’re born. It’s a way to help them develop a love for books and receive the many benefits of reading as they get older. But perhaps you’ve wondered if this is really practical. How can a baby engage with a book or understand a story? How can a baby possibly have a sufficient attention span to get through a story?

When you read to your baby, you have one primary purpose: providing a positive experience with a book.

It’s not about the story. It’s not about learning letters or phonics or making sure they’re an early reader. It’s about the experience.

When you snuggle your baby up close and they listen to the sound of your voice as you read or describe pictures, you’re exposing them to language from the very beginning. You’re promoting brain development in one of the simplest, but most powerful ways, all within the context of a loving relationship.

Here are some simple tips for reading to a child 0-12 months:

1. Focus on creating “warm and fuzzy” feelings associated with books.

Snuggle up and hold your child close so they can see the pictures and hear the sound of your voice. The early days and months of your baby’s life are filled with transitions and challenges, but stopping to read and snuggle can provide a welcome break for you too! (This is also a way to do Basic #1: Maximize Love and Manage Stress.)

2. Keep it simple. 

Sturdy board books that are short, simple, and have colorful pictures, are perfect for babies. As they get older, they will want to reach for the book and turn the pages. Board books that they’ll want to look at over and over again are a great investment. Don’t forget that your local library has these too!  

3. Speak with expression.

Whether you’re reading the words or simply pointing to the pictures and describing what you see, use an expressive voice to engage your child and make the book interesting. Remember, the sound of your voice is your baby’s favorite sound, so have fun as you read!

4. Describe the pictures and point to what you see.

With infants, you don’t need to read the words. You can simply describe what’s happening in the pictures and let them see you turn the pages. Talk about and point to the colors, shapes, and characters.

5. Let them be involved.

As your baby gets older, ask them to point to what they see in the book and let them turn the pages. Before they are even a year old, you can ask questions like, “Do you see the doggie on the page? Can you point to the doggie?” Children love to point and show you what they're learning! (This is also a way to do Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point.)

6. Read the same books over and over.

Babies and young children love repetition. It makes them feel safe and secure. Repetition also reinforces everyday words and concepts that are an important part of their world. Worn out books are well-loved books!

7. Follow their lead.

Remember, the number one goal during this stage is simply to create positive experiences with books. If you've been reading for a few minutes and your baby begins to lose interest, move on to something else. Every child is different and their attention spans will vary, even as they get older, but making it enjoyable will keep them excited about reading.

What are some of your favorite tips on reading to babies?

80% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. Let's seize the opportunity! The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! 

Best of all, you can make the Basics part of your everyday family routines.

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are making "Read and Discuss Stories" part of everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com. 

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word to those within your circle of influence!  

 


7 simple, doable, low-energy tips for parents who don't love to play!

If hearing the question, “Mommy, will you play with me?” makes you feel tired, overwhelmed, or guilty, you’re not alone. Some parents enjoy playing with their children more than others, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not one of them. Meeting the daily demands of parenting and life are already a lot; being your child’s playmate can simply feel like one more thing you need to do!

Yet play is vitally important for children and especially important during the early years when a child's brain growth is happening at a rapid pace. Here are 3 quick things you need to know about play:

  • Play is literally a prescription for a young child’s healthy brain and body. Play enhances brain structure, teaches children to pursue goals and ignore distractions, promotes healthy social interaction, and helps regulate the body’s stress response. 
  • Children need independent play. Children need the freedom to problem-solve, create, and get lost in their imaginations without adult help and intervention. It's easy to simply think of play as a time-filler or a distraction for children, but play is actually a child’s work!
  • Children also benefit from one-on-one attention from you during play, even if it’s just a few minutes. 

So, if play is so important, what is a parent or caregiver’s role in play? Let’s talk about what this can look like in real life with real parents and caregivers who have many responsibilities and perhaps lack the desire or energy to play. Here are some practical ways to work simple play into your daily life. 

1. Play begins at birth and happens in everyday moment. (for the parents who have infants)

When your child is born and in those first few months, think of play in terms of responsive relationships in which you interact with your infant by recognizing nonverbal cues and responding to their needs. Talk, sing, and point as much as possible. As your baby gets a little older and becomes more interested in the world around them, return their interest. “You’re looking at the ball. The ball is round.” Simple activities like playing peek-a-boo or counting toes during diaper-changing time promotes healthy brain growth and bonding with parents.  

It’s also important that your baby gets tummy time each day. As they are able to lift their head and look around, get down on the floor with them and place simple objects within their reach. Each stage of development, from tummy time and crawling, to walking and climbing, presents new opportunities to explore through movement and play.

2. Follow your child’s lead.

You don’t have to put so much energy into play. “The trick to enjoying this child-driven quality time is to try to fade into the background a little bit, energetically speaking,” says Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. Simply meet the child on his level and observe, involving yourself in a laid-back way. Your presence and attention are still there, but it’s a less draining experience for you.

3. It’s okay to set a timer for a certain amount of time you’ll play.

Playing with your child doesn’t need to last as long as you think. You can tell them, “I’m going to set the timer for 15 minutes so we can play.” (Or 5 or 10 minutes.) You’ll be surprised at how loved and connected your child will feel, even if it’s a short amount of time.

4. Stay focused during this time.

For the minutes you have to play, don’t pick up your phone or chase other distractions if possible. Even 10 minutes of focused one-on-one time creates quality bonding and helps your child feel valued and close to you. Focused play time can even help prevent negative, attention-seeking behavior later in the day because you’ve made “deposits” in their emotional bank.

5. Play can be easier when you naturally enjoy the activity.

Though it’s simple and good to follow your child’s lead, it can also be fun for you as the parent or caregiver to create play moments surrounding the activities that come more naturally to you on the days when you do have the time, energy, or opportunity. Perhaps your thing is painting, crafts, Legos, sports activities, games, or being in nature. Share who you are and what you love with your child.

6. Use your local library for free story time and preschool activities.

Most local libraries offer activities throughout the week for young children. They’re free and all you have to do is show up with your child. The rest of the work is done for you!

7. Bring them into daily tasks and turn them into “play.”

Think about it. Young children love to pretend they’re doing household work already. They pretend to cook and bring you plastic food to taste. They pretend to buy groceries, talk on the phone, or play house. These early years are therefore a great opportunity to combine what they naturally love to do with what you need to do. Simply interact with them as you do what needs to be done. As they help you put dishes away, match socks, or put the laundry into drawers, you can turn these activities into a race, into sorting activities, games, or just a way to playfully interact.

Your child loves to be with you and they love to have your positive attention. The memories you make in these simple, playful moments will last a lifetime. They don’t have to be complicated or structured or take up much time; it’s simply important that you have them. It’s the togetherness that helps them feel safe, secure, connected, and loved!

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The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are helping their young children "Explore Through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

You may also enjoy:

15 Screen-Free Indoor Activities to Keep a Young Child Busy

7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child's brain needs it!) 

The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler 

 

 


Are you a parent or caregiver feeling added holiday stress? These 5 tips can help!

The holiday season can be a wonderful time for young children and for those who care for them. The festivities and traditions take on a magical quality when seen through the eyes of a child.

But as we all know, the holidays can also be a stressful time. Extra treats, later bedtimes, disruptions to normal family rhythms, financial strain, and the expectations of extended family can add to the stress. When you consider the unique challenges we face at the another unprecedented year, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.

Here are 5 practical ways you can maximize love and manage stress this holiday season:

1. Stick to daily routines as much as possible. 

The "extras" of the holidays mean that your child’s daily routine will still be disrupted, and that’s okay! But it’s important to stick to routines as much as possible. Why?

Routines provide comfort and stability for your child. Knowing what to expect helps them feel secure. They are less likely to have meltdowns when the day is following its usual rhythm. As much as possible, keep mealtimes, bathtimes, bedtimes, etc. the same.

2. Build in quiet time / down time for your child and for you.

Between the hustle and bustle of work, school, extended family, childcare, parenting, housework, and constantly being on screens, our brains and bodies need a break. When you factor in all the extras of the holidays, you and your child definitely need downtime! 

Just 15-30 minutes of doing something calming and enjoyable can help you recharge. This is not a time for scrolling on a screen. Take a real break to rest, read, or sit outside. Let your child play with toys or look at books. 

3. Get outside.

Even if it’s cloudy and you have to bundle up, sunlight, fresh air, and greenspace are good for the body, mind, and emotions. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight helps Vitamin D levels rise and helps boost your mood. Being outdoors has even been shown to help with focus and concentration. Sometimes, it simply helps your mental state to get a change of scenery. 

4. Move your body and be sure your child gets plenty of movement and play.

Moving your body can help you and your child rest better and feel happier. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts your body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life. 

If you have a baby, be sure they’re getting enough tummy time and movement. Toddlers and preschoolers need plenty of opportunities to run, jump, climb, and play.

5. Adjust your expectations.

Holidays can be a wonderful time with family and a break from the routine, but you can also experience the weight of others’ expectations and the burdens you place on yourself to provide a perfect holiday for your children. Here are 3 things we want you to know:

  • Set boundaries. As a parent or caregiver, make decisions that are best for you and for your immediate family. If others try to make you feel guilty, remind yourself that your voice matters. Whether it's how much money to contribute toward a teacher gift or being expected to join extended family for gatherings, don't overextend yourself or your child just to make others happy. It’s hard to let people down, but you are the only one who can set the best boundaries for yourself, your child, and your family.
  • Know that less really is more. The message of our culture is often that more = better! More spending and more presents! More activities and more festivities! But “more” of these things is not best for your child and it’s not best for you, especially when “more” often creates more stress in terms of spending beyond your budget and packing more into a holiday season than is reasonable.
  • The best present is your presence. Your child needs a parent that is attentive, responsive, and calm. It’s hard to be that parent when you’re too busy, too preoccupied, and too stressed. Stress is part of life, but managing your stress—by setting boundaries and limits in all areas of life—is key to maximizing love with your child.

Palmetto Basics wishes you and yours a very happy holiday season!

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life.

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 


How meal time, bath time, & car time can prepare your child for math!

Believe it or not, babies are born with brains that are ready for learning numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes, and comparisons. Using everyday moments, you can help your child build a healthy brain that’s prepared for problem-solving and math.

These simple ideas—during mealtime, car time, and bath time—can help you turn everyday moments into powerful learning opportunities! 

MEAL TIME

If you have a baby who is eating cereal or table food, count each bite as you feed them with a spoon. Using a fun, sing-song voice as you count shows your baby that counting is fun! 

As your child can feed himself finger foods like Cheerios, count out a certain number and put them in a group. “Let’s count 5 Cheerios! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5!” Counting individual items teaches your child that numbers correspond with objects.

Once your child understands that numbers represents objects, you can begin doing simple addition and subtraction. “How many chicken nuggets are on your plate? That’s right, 5. If you eat 2, how many are left?”  Or "How many carrots will you have if I give you 1 more?" They may not know the answers at first, but you can take this opportunity to point to the items and count with them. 

Have fun with patterns and shapes. Create a simple pattern such as carrot, grape, carrot, grape. Then let you child create her own patterns with finger foods. Meal time is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes! "What shape is your cracker?”

BATH TIME

Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light. Having simple toys in the bathtub, such as plastic cups, is a fun way to do this. Simple conversations like these may not seem like math, but they are. 

“Which cup is big and which cup is small?”

“Pour the cup from up high. Now pour the cup from down low.”

“When you fill the cup with water, does it get heavier? When you dump the water out, does it feel lighter?

Talk about shapes, colors, and sizes of bath toys.

Use words like over, under, down, up during bathtime. “I’m going to pour the water down your back to rinse you off.” Or “Look up as I rinse your hair.”

CAR TIME

What shapes do you see? Houses, shops, signs, the wheels on a car—they all have shapes that your child can begin to recognize!

Talk about time. “It will take us about 10 minutes to get to the store.”

Count things. Traffic lights, cows and horses, red trucks, white cars, buses. Children love to count!

Ask how many? How many wheels does that truck have? How many wheels does that car have? How many wheels does that bicycle have?

 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents count, group, and compare with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.  

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


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