Takeaways for Parents from the National Parent Survey
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ZERO TO THREE, in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation, undertook a comprehensive research effort with parents of children birth to 5 years old which included a series of in-home discussions with a diverse range of parents, as well as a large national survey.
The findings, presented in Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Speak Up about What They Think, Know and Need, revealed important insights about what parents think, know and need when it comes to raising their young children.
The following are key takeaways from the research with links to helpful resources to support parents in putting these strategies into action today.
1. Learn as much as you can about what your child is capable of at each age and stage of development. For example:
- Even very young babies pick up on parents’ moods and can feel complex emotions like sadness and fear.
- Babies benefit from being talked with starting from birth, and being read to starting at 6 months.
- Children have very little self-control – like being able to take turns, share, and follow rules consistently – much before age 3 ½ to 4 years.
- Learn more here.
2. Make everyday moments brain-building moments. There is no need for fancy toys or formal “teaching.”
- Taking a walk is a chance to talk together while learning about colors and numbers (of houses, leaves, cars).
- Bath time is a chance to interact and learn concepts like sinking and floating, and in and out.
- Flipping the lights switch teaches about on and off, and light and dark.
- To explore various ways you can help your child learn, while nurturing a strong connection with you, go to: www.zerotothree.org/magic-of-everyday-moments and www.JoinVroom.org.
3. Avoid harsh discipline methods (i.e., yelling, spanking, shaming).
Discipline is about teaching and guiding, and can be loving and effective at the same time. Punitive methods can actually be damaging to children in the short- and long-term.
- Remember, young children are driven by emotions, not logic; so irrational behavior is normal and to be expected. They need empathy, patience and guidance to learn how to accept and follow rules.
- When you set and enforce clear and appropriate limits, you help build self-control and resilience, and the ability to cope with life’s frustrations and disappointments – key life skills.
- Try to stay calm, connected and loving – even as your child is protesting the limit. Anger and rejection increases children’s distress and makes it harder for them to learn from the experience.
- Learn more about positive, effective discipline strategies here.
4. Think about your own childhood experiences – which you felt were helpful and supportive, and which not-so-much.
- This kind of reflection and mindfulness can help you choose what practices you want to continue with your own children and which you want to leave behind.
- Learn more about positive parenting approaches here.
5. Support, don’t judge, your fellow parents.
- No parent is perfect; we all make mistakes and experience challenges.
- Remember, there is more that unites than divides parents.
- Parenting is stressful enough—think empathy and compassion, not criticism.