It’s no surprise that the family is the foundation of a child’s well-being. Children who grow up in stable, responsive and nurturing households reap a lifetime of benefits. From infancy to adolescence and across adulthood, these children are healthier, exhibit fewer behavioral problems, use drugs less frequently, perform better in school and on the job, and are less likely to be incarcerated.
A growing body of research shows that improving parenting skills can help support a child’s health and development.
Encouraging positive interactions between parents and children, especially during the early years of child development when brain development is happening rapidly, can improve children’s physical and emotional health. Parents want to help their children thrive, and we can all play a role in supporting parents in that critical responsibility.
There is no wrong door for supporting families and building parenting skills. Providers who care for children – from health care providers to early care and education providers to school teachers and professionals to home visitors – should engage parents from a position of respect. And, they should use approaches based on solid evidence to help parents build upon their strengths. Parents can serve as a resource to one another, too. Private foundations, non-profits and all levels of government have in the past can still help spread and scale the programs that work. Private organizations also have a role to play. For example, insurers can reimburse for parenting programs that are proven successful.
As part of Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention, we are always looking for ways to ensure that more children and families can benefit from solutions that work. We believe that federal, state and local government should continue to support and improve policies, programs and messages that reinforce parenting skills, competencies, and engagement, and promote child and family well-being. We partnered with the Health, Medicine and Society section of the Aspen Institute to host a meeting that led to a policy paper detailing some of these solutions.