The Palmetto Basics equips every parent and caregiver with the basic tools they need to give all kids a great start in life!
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and it's important to understand how the very first Basic, "Maximize Love and Manage Stress," is the number one way to promote great childhoods and help prevent child abuse within our own homes and communities.
Children thrive when their world seems loving, safe, and predictable. When parents express love and respond to their child's needs, the child feels secure. Parents also need to take steps to avoid too much stress and learn to cope effectively when stress is unavoidable. But it's harder for parents to manage stress when they are running on empty and lack support.
Believe it or not, we all have a part to play in promoting great childhoods and preventing abuse. It begins with supporting the parents right around you in simple, everyday ways.
Here are 3 everyday ways YOU can help parents and caregivers in your community Maximize Love & Manage Stress.
1. Pay attention.
When parents live in a constant state of stress and instability, they are far more vulnerable to abusing and neglecting children. Too much stress, in the form of sleep-deprivation, financial hardship, and family crisis, can push even a loving parent to snap.
This is why the first and most foundational basic is "Maximize Love & Manage Stress."
When you understand the importance of this and begin to pay attention, you can make a positive impact in the life of a child, even as you go about your daily routine.
Imagine this scenario: You're standing behind a mom in the grocery store line at 5:30 pm. The furrowed brow and circles under her eyes tell you that she's exhausted and overwhelmed. She simply wants to survive the checkout line and get the kids and groceries into the car.
What if you could be the unexpected encouragement that helps to steady a stressed-out parent, equipping them to make it through the day?
It begins with noticing her. You might buy a cold drink from the checkout cooler and say something like, I bet it’s been a long day. Here you go. Take it, I insist. You’re doing an awesome job, putting food on the table and keeping up with these energetic kids.
There are countless ways this scenario might show up in your everyday life but they all have the same simple responses in common — pay attention and offer practical, everyday kindness.
You've heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." It's absolutely true. When you provide timely encouragement to a parent, you help them manage stress. And when you help a parent manage stress, they are less prone to react in unsafe ways and better equipped to respond in love to their children. Your everyday compassion may save the day for an overwhelmed parent and a vulnerable child.
2. Share what you can.
You probably have more to give than you think. We tend to take our own privilege for granted and assume we need more time, more money, or a measure of expertise to “pay it forward” and really make a difference. But what if we begin to adopt an everyday, give-what-I-have mentality?
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 their emotional health. When that happens, the safety and security of children are also at risk.
When the bills are piling up and the baby is crying. When the creditors won’t stop calling and the kids won’t stop fighting. When the bank is threatening to foreclose and the toddler just threw shoes in the toilet.
There are families in need right around you. Any person can be one job loss or one costly emergency away from dire financial straits and the resulting stress. With this in mind, there are resources you have that can ease someone’s burden and make a difference.
Who do you know that could use the clothes your child just grew out of? And if you don’t know of someone, ask your school or church. What local charity or family in need would appreciate the gently-used sofa you recently replaced? How about the Spiderman bedding your child has outgrown or the non-perishables in your pantry?
These are simple ways to share what you have and help a burdened parent. If you’re able to give in other ways, whether it’s a grocery store gift card or paying someone’s utility bill, know that your generosity can result in a ripple effect of change!
3. Serve where you are.
- Your faith community. Have you considered that when you serve in your church nursery, you're helping parents Maximize Love & Manage Stress? Churches offer invaluable support by providing nursery care and children's programming so that weary parents can be strengthened mentally and spiritually, equipping them with the rest and renewal they need to keep going.
- Your neighborhood. Take the time to get to know the families around you. Pay attention to parents who seem stressed, and offer to help by watching their kids, providing a listening ear, or sharing what you have.
- Meals for new moms. Providing a meal to a new mother helps get her through a critical time when she is desperate for life's most basic needs like sleep, sanity, and a hot shower. A meal not only helps lighten her load by providing food; a meal represents love and support, reminding a new mom that she isn't alone.
Ultimately, promoting great childhoods and preventing abuse boils down to this — being a good neighbor. Do you desire the same stability and opportunities for the children of your community that you desire for your own children and grandchildren? It begins with paying attention to simple opportunities you encounter every day — in the grocery store, at the park, in your church, as you donate the things you no longer need, and give in ways that you can.
Together, we can help provide great childhoods!
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 "Maximizing Love & Managing 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!
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!