Parenting is not all fun and games. Let’s face it – sometimes parents need answers and support in helping a child with their emotions or behavior.
Do you ever struggle with knowing your child wants, why they won’t listen or how to respond to a temper tantrum? Help is available. It takes a village to raise a child, and 211 can help connect you to that village. Call 2-1-1 to speak with a caring 211 specialist who can connect you to parenting support.
You can also call The Family Tree 24-hour Parenting HelpLine at 1-800-243-7337 for free and confidential support, advice and community resources.
Parenting Education Groups
Children learn and manage their emotions in unique ways. Sometimes their behavior is due to a behavioral health or developmental concern, and that can make it difficult for the parent and child to connect.
Understood helps parents understand their children so they can thrive. They have many resources for families to help children with learning and thinking differently, school, friends and feelings, family dynamics, understanding their community and tools to help parents see life through their child’s eye.
Understanding why a child feels or acts a certain way is critical to establishing a strong parent and child-relationship.
No parent is perfect. Circle of Security® Parenting™ provides a framework for finding the answers to common childhood behaviors. Let’s face it, it’s not always easy. The program supports parents, foster parents, child care providers and caregivers and focuses on strengthening the parent-child relationship so you can support your child as they learn and grow.
Several groups throughout Maryland teach the Circle of Security® Parenting™ techniques. You can sign up for parenting education groups through The Family Tree, Kindred Tree Healing Center and the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
If you're a kinship caregiver, there are support systems in place to help you.
You can text MDKinCares to 898-211 to connect with local resources and support.
Kinship can be difficult to navigate, as it can change relationships. Learn how to navigate kinship and also tap into the resources and benefits available in Maryland.
Even during difficult times, a strong parent-child relationship can help the child build resiliency. It’s the first building block in Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experience (HOPE). Their philosophy is that “The Positive” already exists in people and cultures. Here are the building blocks to tap into that positivity, even amidst financial, emotional and personal family challenges. Focus on:
- Parent-child relationship
- Opportunities for social and emotional growth
- Safe environment
- Social and civic engagement
Strengthening The Parent-Child Relationship
Strengthen your relationship through play. Create a strong connection and positive memories by acting silly or watching a movie together. It’s the simple things in life that your children will treasure most.
Long before a child can communicate, play serves a valuable role in an infant’s life. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has a quick parenting master class, just a few minutes long, to show you how to build a baby’s brain through play and strengthen that bond at the same time.
For activities that support development and learning from birth through three years old, Maryland Health Beginnings has a resource guide for parents. It details indicators that a child may be feeling a certain way, examples of child behavior and activities to support the child. It includes cues for babies, ways to help your child with early literacy such as pre-reading and pre-writing, helping your child communicate, coordination of movements, promoting curiosity and personal and social development.
Maryland Healthy Beginnings also has a resource guide to engage a child’s creative side with ideas for children birth to five years old. Download the Healthy Beginnings Activity Guide.
Are you wondering about age appropriate behavior? Heathy Beginnings has a milestone chart for personal and social development, language development, cognitive development and physical development. Remember, every child develops at their own pace.
If you have concerns about your child’s development, speak to your pediatrician, child care provider, or get a referral for an evaluation.
Social And Emotional Growth
Through play, you can also support your child’s emotional and social growth. During unstructured play, talk about emotions, feelings and resolving conflict. Help your child practice self-regulation and emotional control. Have them name their feelings when they arise. Normalize disagreements and show them how to cope and manage these situations.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has an activity guide, broken down by age, to help parents teach these essential life skills, sometimes called “executive function” and “self-regulation.” (EF/SR) The age-appropriate games and activities show you how to prepare your child for life, build a resilient individual who can cope and respond to the unknown.
They compare these skills to an air traffic controller at a busy airport. A child has to learn how to manage all the environmental, social and emotional stimuli so they can focus their attention, filter distractions and mentally switch gears when needed.
Children are not born with these skills. They’re taught and learned as children develop. Experiences and social interactions help shape these skills. It takes time, which is why there are activities for infants up to adolescents.
First, you’ll help your child complete challenging tasks, then step back and let the child perform them on their own and later in life let the child learn from their mistakes. From playing peekaboo with an infant to chess with an adolescent, there are ways to engage your child from birth to adulthood so they’re prepared for everyday challenges.
View the activity guide from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. to help your child learn self-regulation and executive function skills.
Ensuring A Safe Environment
Create a safe, equitable and stable environment for your child at home and in school. The environment in which a child grows up can impact an individual’s mental and physical health.
At school, does your child feel safe? Are they being bullied? If there are concerns, talk to your child’s school and/or school counselor for support with the issue.
HOPE suggests taking your child(ren) to the park so they can play outside. It helps establish safety and social interactions.
If you have concerns about your housing or need help finding safe housing, call 2-1-1.
Think back to your own childhood. What are your fondest memories? Are there positive relationships you had, that you can bring to your child? Who can you connect your child with to forge a positive relationship? Is there someone at church, a coach, an uncle or aunt or a neighbor?
Is there a mentoring program like Big Brothers Big Sisters that can further support your child?
211 also has a list of local mentoring programs.
Build community connectedness by participating in mentoring programs or cultural, athletic and civic events. These may be within the community as a whole or your child’s school or your family’s church. This connectivity helps children feel loved, appreciated and aware of their surroundings. HOPE says it creates a “sense of mattering” and belonging that leads to stronger, more resilient adults.
After School Activities
Making the most of a child’s time out of school is just as important as what happens in the classroom. For working parents, this can be challenging.
Get your children involved in after-school activities. The Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST) is a statewide youth development organization that provides information and resources on "out of school" opportunities.
You can also talk with your child's school and community agencies for a list of activities including academic programs, music, arts and sports. There are programs like Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, STEM/STEAM programs like BmoreSTEM and FIRST in Maryland, art classes and Excel Beyond the Bell Middle School program in Montgomery County.
Mental Health Of Parents
With parenting, the focus is often on the children. But, parents need support too. Parenting can be joyous and overwhelming. Know that you are not alone, and no parent is perfect.
If you’re experiencing depression (including postpartum) or feeling overwhelmed as a parent, reach out for support. Dial 2-1-1, Press 1 to speak to a Crisis Specialist 24/7/365. When you press 1, you’ll be immediately connected.
Also, use 211's free and confidential mental health support program, 211 Health Check. It's a weekly check-in, for as long as you need, with a caring and compassionate person who can help ease your mind of stress and worry and connect you to resources.