Your Number Story

Support Families & Community

  • Caregiver Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Encourage Learning
  • Support
  • Social & Emotional Competence

Boost caregiver resilience

The reality is there will always be stress in life, whether due to financial challenges, health issues, divorce, or other hardships. Yet research shows that how parents respond to stressful situations – whether they have the capacity to cope in a healthy way and the skills to buffer kids from the stress of the situation – is much more important than the stress itself in determining family outcomes.

And we as individuals and as communities can play a part in supporting families.

When caregivers are able to manage stress and function well even in the face of adversity, children can continue to develop in healthy, positive ways. Here are two ways to help:

ENCOURAGE SELF CARE

Ask parents and caregivers about how they’re taking care of themselves and, if they’re open, be ready with ideas and suggestions.

TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF

Parenting is stressful. Normalizing that fact can take the pressure off parents and caregivers and keep them from judging themselves too harshly. You can help by talking things through and sharing your own stories, and collaboratively creating a plan for responding to stressful parenting situations.

Want to learn more about how your community can support children and families?

Visit the Center for the Study of Social Policy to find resources on how communities and philanthropic organizations can and are helping.

Set up social connections

When parents and caregivers have meaningful relationships built on mutual trust and respect, the whole family benefits — children included. Supportive social connections help buffer parents from the stresses of life and boost their ability to nurture others.

MAKE CONNECTIONS

Invite parents and caregivers to events (there are many virtual ones right now!) where they can get to know other families, with or without their kids. It’s especially important to reach out to caregivers who may be isolated.

Note: if you’re attending events in-person, please be COVID safe!

MAP OUT SUPPORT

Help a parent or caregiver map out people and/or communities who could support them in their life. Make a plan with them to engage with one or more of those people or communities in the week ahead.

Encourage learning about parenting & child development

We are all continuously learning about our children and how to care for their changing needs. Science helps us understand how children grow and develop, and how caregivers can best help them.

Here are two ways to help:

BE A ROLE MODEL

Model positive, nurturing interactions, play, and communication with kids and their parents or caregivers. Talk about what kids are doing developmentally and, if you can, praise positive interactions.

To learn more about kids’ development, check out one of these resources:

BE A RESOURCE

Help parents or caregivers identify trusted sources for parenting advice. This might be people they know, websites, social media communities, etc. You can also help connect parents or caregivers to parenting classes, either online or in your community. If it seems appropriate, consider attending yourself to share the experience.

Provide support in times of need

All parents and caregivers need help sometimes. That’s perfectly normal. Yet sometimes when we can’t handle everything ourselves, it can feel like we’re failing.

It’s important for parents to understand that knowing when, how, and who to ask for help is actually a sign of strength and resilience. It’s not a sign of failure.

If we as individuals and communities can provide support to families when we’re able to, we can help normalize the healthy interdependence families need to thrive.

Here are three ways to help:

BE PREPARED WITH RESOURCES TO SHARE

Check out and bookmark these resources. You’ll find help for issues ranging from custody and co-parenting support to crisis services for runaway kids and grants for single moms.

KNOW WHERE TO GO LOCALLY

Get to know your community’s resources (2-1-1, food distribution sites, diaper banks, and employment, housing, medical, mental health, social, educational, or legal services. etc.). Share about one each week on social media. Encourage families in your life to seek help when they need it and talk openly about times you’ve received help.

MAKE A PLAN

If you know of an unmet need in a family, offer to help problem-solve with the parent or caregiver. Work together to come up with some concrete ways to meet the need — like a list of agencies to call, people to ask for help, expenses to cut, etc.

Help build the social and emotional competence of children

Children need a stable relationship with a caring adult who helps them feel safe to express emotions, responds emotionally, and models empathy. An adult who sets expectations, encourages social skills, and creates opportunities for problem solving. This type of nurturing attachment is crucial to a child’s social and emotional development.

Here are two ways to help:

BRIDGE THE GAP

Connect families to resources to help them build their children’s social and emotional skills. These could be toys, games, or books, playgroups or parenting classes, or mental health counseling, depending on a family’s needs.

Note: if you’re attending events in-person, please be COVID safe!

REMEMBER A ROLE MODEL

Ask the parent or caregiver to think of an adult who made them feel cared for and loved as a child. Ask what made that relationship important to them, and how that adult related to them. Help them figure out how they can bring positive interactions like they experienced with that person into their relationship with their own child.