Protective Factor 4: Increasing knowledge of child development and parenting

"You are the number one expert on your child." This is a mantra I hear myself and the staff at The Ballard Center repeating almost daily. Parents sometimes need to be reminded of this. We wring our hands and rely on doctors and other professionals, which is very important, but we often don't trust our "guts" when it comes to our children.

If we are to be the number one experts on our children, we need to do everything we can to be fully informed. The more parents know about what is "normal" or "healthy" for a child at a particular age or stage, the more that parent can advocate for the child.

The Ballard Center's Family Connections Coordinator meets with parents one-on-one and in groups to encourage them in their learning about child development and parenting. Most parents are prone to repeat the way they were parented. This is natural and sometimes really beneficial, but it's important that we always examine our assumptions about kids, development, and parenting styles to be sure we are doing our very best by our children.

Ballard provides bi-annual ASQ-3 screenings (the Ages and Stages Questionnaire) to help us guide parents in their goal setting and their understanding of their children's strengths and challenges. Many pediatrician's offices and other child-focused organizations in town also offer these screenings free of charge. We encourage parents to avail themselves of these screenings as well as trainings and play groups that add to their knowledge base about raising healthy and happy children.

Doctors, educators, mental health professionals, and other experts can guide parents toward good resources for their own growth and exploration. So many organizations, such as The Douglas County Child Development Association, Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas, The Ballard Center, Healthy Families, Parents as Teachers, and Tiny-K to name just a few are ready and willing to offer information, screenings, and help to parents who are interested in being as knowledgeable and invested as possible.


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