Tag Archives: children

Helping Parents & Parent Educators in Times of Trauma

By Scott Hippert
President/CEO, Parents as Teachers National Center

ScottHippert_135x115Just over 30 years ago, Ferguson, Missouri served as fertile ground for the seed that grew into Parents as Teachers. Planted in this peaceful, child-focused community, Parents as Teachers (PAT) has become a model across the U.S. that puts the well-being of children first and foremost, and gives parents the knowledge and tools they need to foster engaged citizens and productive leaders.

Today, the Ferguson community is grappling with the aftermath of a tragedy that has deeply shaken it and sent ripples of unrest throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and the nation. Clearly, there are serious issues about race that we must confront and find solutions to – across our nation and in the St. Louis area.

But that real work that needs to happen is nearly invisible, blocked out by news footage and pictures of rampant destruction and violence that much of our country now equates with Ferguson. Nearly all of the destruction has come at the hands of outsiders who have used the situation to steal from local businesses and tear apart a community in which they have no stake.

We know situations like this create toxic stress that affects people, especially young children, for life. Our work amid all the unrest is to continue to make sure parents and their children have the best support possible. So our parent educators, the trained early learning professionals who deliver parenting education and support to families through personal visits, are continuing to work with the families in the Ferguson and surrounding communities to keep them strong and centered.

Here are some tips from the PAT curriculum which you can use in your own families to deal with stress and trauma:

  • Children thrive on routine. Try to keep regular mealtimes and bedtime. Spend quiet time reading each night to create calm.
  • Turn off the TV and radio when children are around. Continually witnessing unrest can be very unsettling for children.
  • What they need to hear most is that the adults around them will take care of them and protect them.
  • Children aren’t little adults. Answer questions in an age-appropriate way and with only a few details. They should be in an environment that fits their developmental needs.

The PAT website has more information for parents and caregivers, along with helpful websites and other resources – click here to access it.

It’s time for everyone on all sides of this tragedy to put our families and children first.


Just where IS the best place to live?

By Stephanie Utrup

Is it here?

I recently came across a list of America’s Best Places to Live. I have been to a handful of the places and would agree that, indeed, they would be wonderful places to live. It was both interesting and entertaining to see where you could make the most money, where the most expensive homes were, where it was hottest and coldest and how many people lived there. Yet the more I looked at it the more skeptical I became.

Or maybe here?

Mind you, this was on the money page, but what defined a good place to live seemed so stereotypical to me. It was all about money, median age, temperature, money, housing, money, commute time, money….

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that all of these are important, but a very crucial component, at least in my mind, was missing: they forgot about the kids!! What about schools and things for kids to do, average family size etc. (I’ll give them a little credit…they did give reading and math scores on standardized tests.) I don’t have any children, but this really bothered me. I think it would be unfortunate to call cities the “best places to live” without even considering the 72.3 million people under age 18!

What if it's here?

So maybe including children in this report wasn’t so important, but I’m afraid this isn’t an isolated incident. Too often kids are an afterthought or not a thought at all. This is a problem.

Parents as Teachers puts all of its energy into caring about children. But they can’t do it alone. Show us that you care about children too; donate now!

Stephanie Utrup is a graduate student at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and a practicum student at Parents as Teachers. Upon graduation in August she hopes to work in child advocacy in Washington D.C.

Reflections on Mom’s Day

With Mother’s Day being this past weekend, I was reflecting on the intangible gifts that my mom (and dad) gave me while I was growing up.  I remember clear boundaries and rules, family dinners, and game night to name a few. I came across a new resource last week, Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, that helped me to be even more appreciative of these gifts from my parents.  In this age of cable and satellite TV, game systems, and crazy consumerism…how are you encouraging parents to “take back childhood”? Parents….what are the intangible gifts you are giving your children? Let’s share!