One of the hardest jobs we have as a parent is keeping our children safe. Not only do we have to worry about physical safety, but we need to make sure that they are emotionally safe.

I know how challenging all those things can be as a parent who raised four children and now have three wonderful grandchildren. We are faced with some very challenging times, and it can be very scary for our young children. We focus and spend so much time keeping our children physically safe during the COVID- 19 pandemic, but we need to remember is it just as important that as parents, we focus on their social-emotional health as well.

As caregivers, one of the most important things that we can do to meet the needs of our children’s social-emotional well-being is to make sure that we are meeting our own as well. That is far more difficult when we are restricted to our homes, have limited communication and feel isolated.

It is easy for us to think of our own social-emotional well-being as adults, but to think that, from birth, children have the same needs is sometimes something we forget.

For young children it is all about experiences, regulation of emotions and most importantly the positive relationships that they have in their life. From birth, children have this innate ability to sense when something is wrong in their world or home. It is important, as a parent or caregiver, that we validate these feelings and support the child in knowing there is an adult who cares.

One caring adult in the life of a child can make the difference in how they perceive the world in their future, how it affects their relationships and how they feel about themselves.

As the program director at Family Development Center, I and my colleagues remind parents daily that they are that person. We all have had someone in our life — maybe it wasn’t a parent — who met our emotional needs, praised our good behavior, taught us what empathy was and instilled in us how to cooperate and collaborate in this big world we live in.

As parents and caregivers, those are simple things you can do daily to encourage your infant, child or teenager to make a difference.

Please don’t forget to get your needs met as well so that you have something to give to those little ones who depend on you every day. You can always reach out to Take Root Parenting to get connected with a local parenting group.

Marsha La Verne is the Program Director for Family Development Center and an avid parent educator for Take Root. For more information on parenting classes, please contact Susan Stiles-Sumstine at Take Root Parenting Connection, susan.stiles-sumstine@douglasesd.k12.or.us.

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