Providing awesome child care is a caregiver’s number one job. Right below that is providing support to the parents. That’s what makes child care in the early years different from all others, how integral the parents and children are, they both need to be supported. At different points, every parent struggles with figuring out the best way to handle something, or feeling like they’re just not doing a great job, or scrambling to juggle all the different roles they have to fill. As a caregiver, you can help. Here are three impactful ways:
1. Share your expertise in a non-judgement, collaborative, supportive way. Often parents want advice from their caregiver, they’re just not sure how to ask or feel embarrassed that they can’t easily do whatever task they’re facing already. It’s key to let them know that despite what society tells us, good parenting isn’t a natural skill. It’s something learned and improved on with experience and practice. Remind them they have the most important ingredient already; they love and want the best for their child. Then help coach them through the challenge, supporting them along the way.
2. Provide reassurance that they’re doing a good job. Even the most confident parent can feel shaky in their ability now and again. Some, much more often. Parenting is a daunting task and it’s really heartening to have someone cheering you on and letting you know you’re doing a good job.
3. Support their decisions. Even if you don’t agree with their parenting decision, remember it’s still their decision to make. If you have an alternative idea, respectfully present it. However, don’t feel slighted if your idea is passed over. There’s more than one way to handle any situation so when they choose their path, support them. (This is one of the hardest lessons of being a caregiver.)
Being a successful child caregiver is a combination of providing great care and great support. What a difference it can make to parents!