What Every Parent Needs to Know About Love and Stress

Eighty percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life!

The Palmetto Basics initiative is about equipping all parents with the simple tools they need to seize the opportunity of the early years.

These 5 fun, simple, powerful ways include "Basics" you're probably familiar with: talking, singing, counting, reading.

But there's one Basic that serves as a foundation for all the rest. It prepares young brains and bodies to learn, to adapt, to relate to others, and to thrive in all areas of life. 

What is this all-important, number one, foundational basic that ALL parents need to focus on before anything else?

We doubt you'll see this information in the newborn ward at your local hospital. 

Neighborhood preschools likely won't have a poster about it in the lobby.

Your church nursery probably isn't handing out brochures on love and stress.

The Palmetto Basics initiative is working to change this (and we'd love to have your help!) But first, it's important to know why issues of love and stress matter so much in the life and brain development of a young child. 

First let's talk about "Maximize Love" and what that looks like in everyday life:

Children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable. 

When you respond to the needs of your newborn or toddler, you teach them that they can count on you. This helps them feel secure. 

Holding, kissing, and cuddling your young child helps them feel loved and safe. 

Simple, everyday routines provide a world that's predictable and secure. Having consistent rhythms for eating, bathing, and bedtime helps children easily transition from one thing to the next because they know what to expect. 

Now let's talk about "Managing Stress," why it matters and what it looks like in everyday life:

You can't always avoid stress. But you can learn to cope effectively when you do deal with daily stress or encounter unforeseen stressful circumstances. And you can teach your child to do the same. 

In the same way that children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable, children suffer when their world is neglectful, unsafe, and chaotic. 

Young children are greatly affected by the stress of their parents and caregivers. Even babies can feel the stress of a parent. 

It's crucial that parents find healthy ways to cope with stress as they also care for their children. Not doing so can having a lasting effect on a young child's brain and emotions.

Here are some practical ways to manage stress:

  • Make "self-care" a priority. Sometimes you may only be able to grab one minute to walk away and take deep breaths so that you can return to your child with more calm and less anxiety. Sometimes you may have more time and can find a stress-relieving activity: exercise, a nap while your child rests, prayer or meditation, calling a trusted friend you can talk to.
  • Get outside. Take your child for a walk or to the park. Taking a break helps you to "let it go," and find peace and perspective.
  • Find a local agency that provides services and support to parents.
  • Contact a local faith community.

Research shows that a solid foundation of love and security helps children focus, adapt to new situations, control their emotions, and begin school ready to learn. 

We're excited to share more about The Palmetto Basics with you in the coming weeks and months.

We're choosing one Basic a month, sharing an overview here on the blog and other resources you don't want to miss through social media.

While all the Basics matter and are the 5 best things you can do for your young child, there's a reason that Maximizing Love and Managing Stress is the first and most important Basic! 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey of Maximizing Love and Managing Stress:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are Maximizing Love and Managing Stress. 
  • 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!