Lots of people want
to give parents advice. Other parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors,
and people on the street have suggestions. They will share ideas about
everything from the hiccups to toilet training to curfews. Some people
are gentle with advice. Other people are pushy. As a childcare provider,
you may also give advice to parents. You may send them to other professionals
who will give them advice. It is important to support parents when you
give suggestions. You can also help parents learn how to respond when
people give advice.
By the time their first child is a few weeks old, most parents know
they do not have all the answers. Most parents welcome new ideas. But
sometimes those ideas can be very confusing. One person may say that
a parent should always pick up a baby who is crying. Another person
may say a parent should never pick up a crying baby. Advice about spanking
can be very confusing. And every person seems to have different ideas
about what and how children should eat.
The first thing you can do to help parents deal with advice is to help
them get to know themselves. Help parents to understand that they know
more about their children than anybody else. They also know more about
their goals and values, and they should be the ones who decide on those
things. Also help them learn what kind of people they are. You may talk
to one parent about how active she is and point out to another that
he is very patient. Listen when parents tell you about themselves. Help
them understand that they are special and unique.
You also can help parents understand their children. Each child is unique,
too. Some children need lots of help and support. Other children are
very independent. Some children like new things and get used to changes
quickly. Other children have lots of trouble with change. Help the parents
think about and understand
their children and what they need.
Encourage the parents to talk about their goals and values in parenting.
They should talk with someone they trust. Most of the time it would
be good for them to talk with a partner or close friend. Sometimes you
may want to talk to them about these things. You could give parents
some ideas about how to identify and talk about their parenting
When you give parents advice, there are other guidelines you can follow.
You also can think about these things when you and the parent are talking
about advice from others.
about the parent’s needs. Does the advice fit this parent?
Does it fit the child(ren)? Is this a problem the
parent has talked about before? Is the advice or information just making
the parent feel guilty? Should the parent
feel guilty? Does the parent want to change?
for good quality information. Make sure the advice is coming
from someone or an organization you can
Does the person have training in the right area? Have you gotten useful
information from this source in the
Be careful if the source uses lots of numbers to make a point. Numbers
can be used to support many
different ideas. Ask someone who understands research to help you. And
be careful if the source claims to have the
answer. Family life is not simple. All parents and children are not
alike. One answer will not work for
the parent apply the information to his own life. Parents and
children do not come with owner’s manuals.
need to make their own decisions about how to do things. That is good,
but it is hard work. Parents need to
advice to fit their needs.
Help parents decide if the advice fits their values.
Ask parents if the advice is really better than what they are doing
now. Could they change back if the advice
Help parents understand the advice. They might want to change the advice
and do things a little differently,
but first they need to know what the ideas were.
If parents decide to try the advice, help them think about the change.
Do other people in the family need to
change, too? If others need to change, they should be part of
Help parents set specific goals. Help them decide exactly what they
want to change. They could set small
goals to start.
parents decide if the change is working. After they try new
ideas, parents need to decide if they were
Remind the parents about the problem they were trying to solve. Help
them look at the outcome. It
would be good to write down how things were going before and after the
change. Then they could see if there was a
difference. Also help the parent decide if the change felt comfortable.
If the change didn’t work, help the parents look
for new advice that fits them better.
to deal with parenting advice
are my goals in parenting?