Parenting as Children Grow

Learning to support your child’s growth at every age and stage.

Happy family of parents, three children, and a grandfather

Being a great parent doesn’t come naturally. The truth is that every family learns as they go. Gaining knowledge of parenting and child development can help you set realistic expectations, encourage positive behaviors and feel prepared for new challenges as children grow.

Parenting as Children Grow can look like…

Chart showing reward for good behavior

Trying different strategies for managing behavior

Computer screen showing a search for help with toddler meltdowns

Looking for parenting information, tools and ideas

Young woman in three stages of growing up: young child, child, and teenager

Knowing how to nurture kids as they grow

Hear From Parents

Listen as parents and grandparents share how the 5 Strengths are important for their families and why they want other families to understand them too. 

Ask Yourself…

There are no right answers. Thinking about these questions can help you understand your family’s strengths.

Do you dread the sound of crying?
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Nature has programed humans’ attention to be captured by the sound of crying. It seems to short circuit our brains. Unfortunately, all babies cry, and it is particularly intense from two weeks until three months or so. But that does not mean they are done crying altogether. There will still be many periods of crying in the days and years to come, so parents need to deal with their own feelings too. Recognize that it’s normal to have a strong reaction to crying. Think about how your child feels and respond accordingly. Plan how to get short breaks. Be kind to yourself and your child.
Do you ever feel like you are not a good enough parent?
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You are not alone in feeling this way. There is a lot of pressure on parents. If you are comparing yourself to others, remember what works for others may not work for you and your unique child. Ask yourself if your fears are realistic. Parents often judge themselves and their children in the moment instead of thinking of how things might balance out or change in the longer term. Talk with someone you trust and be open to honest feedback. Accept that you will make mistakes and learn from them. Remind yourself that you do not have control over everything that affects your child. If you feel overwhelmed or need new parenting ideas, reach out for help. Family resource centers (FRCs) and doctor’s offices are great places to look for parenting help. To find an FRC near you, check out the Family Resource Center tab above.
Do you know why play is serious business for children?
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Early childhood teacher Maria Montessori once said, “Play is the work of the child” and children take play very seriously. It is how they learn about the world and themselves. It is, in fact, how they learn how to learn. Giving your young child time to play is essential for the growth of your child and has much greater benefits than teaching facts. The best part is they know how and want to do it naturally. However, creating an environment that encourages play makes it even more beneficial – free unstructured time, lots of things that spark imagination, opportunities to make choices, playmates, and the chance to take the lead and follow their own interests. Bonus points to you for joining in once in a while but don’t take over. Remember to follow your child’s direction.

Tips to Try

Looking for new ideas and support for parenting is a sign of a strong parent. Download the Parenting as Children Grow PDF and try these tips:

6 Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids:

  • Have a race
  • Make up an obstacle course
  • Find treasures
  • Look for shapes in the clouds
  • Climb a tree 
  • Play in mud
  • Create a scavenger hunt

5 Reasons to Read to Your Child:

  • You spend time together
  • It makes them feel special
  • You both can learn new things
  • You can get some snuggle time
  • They’ll do better when they are in school

Take Action

Once you understand the Five Strengths and why they are important, you will want to take action and explore more about how you can build them in your own family. Check out the ideas and exercises below, or download the Parenting as Children Grow PDF to find more about what to look for, where to learn more and what you can do to increase your parenting knowledge and skills. 

Make Play a Part of Your Day

Play is one of the things that your child must have to learn and grow. Spending time with your child while they play and joining in some of the time helps your relationship grow stronger, but it can be tough to fit into your busy days. Here are some tips on how you can make play a part of your day:

  • Spend time outdoors.
  • Give your child unscheduled time every day.
  • Find fun in everyday activities (like cooking or cleaning).
  • Stop, look, and listen to when your child wants to show you.
  • Make sure you have playthings that use imagination (blocks, boxes, lids, playdoh).
  • Put devices away and turn off screens for a time.
Create Daily Routines

Children feel more confident and cooperative when they know what to expect. Adding structure to your day can prepare kids for transitions like bedtime and help you both move more smoothly through the day.

Schedule it: Set times and an order to activities like meals, naps, homework or bedtime. Offer older kids choices.

Share it: Tell your kids the plan, step by step.

Display it: Posting a chart or a list on the wall can be a helpful reminder, both for you and your child.

Prep for it: Alert kids a few minutes prior to starting a routine to get them ready for a change.

Stick with it: When you get off track, try again.

7 Ways for Dads to Tame Tantrums

One of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of parenting is dealing with toddler tantrums. Dad Central has published an article on how to handle these moments in a way that is both effective and calming for both parent and child. The 7 strategies are

  • Stay calm and patient yourself
  • Validate your child’s feelings
  • Offer comfort and support
  • Try to identify the tantrum’s cause
  • Set clear limits and boundaries
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Seek help if needed

CDC Parenting Skills Interactive activities that help parents practice new parenting techniques to prepare before using them with their child.

Ages and Stages Activity Sheets Fun activities that support bonding and development at each stage from two months to four years.

Games on the Go Cards 50 game cards for ages 5-8 on up, including guessing games, word games, memory games, and trivia that can be played anywhere when you are on the go with your children.

Vroom Daily Activities A service that sends a daily text containing a brain building activity to do with your child.

Sparks Video Series Videos that contain information based on each well baby check-up with your baby’s doctor.


Making Time for Reading
  • It is so good for your child when you to read to them for a little while every day. Begin when they are babies, continue throughout elementary school and as long as they are willing to listen. Remember, they don’t have to sit still while you read to be learning. Sometimes it can be very hard to find time for reading. Here are some suggestions of how to fit it into your day:
  • You can read during bath time.
  • You can read in the car (when someone else is driving).
  • You can read while you are eating lunch or dinner together.
  • You can read while you are waiting for the bus.
  • You can read while you are waiting for an appointment.
  • You can read while you are watching a sibling’s activity.
  • And, of course, you can read before bedtime.
Tools To Help With Parenting

CDC Milestone Tracker This app helps parents identify and save their baby’s milestones.

CDC Parenting Skills Interactive activities help parents practice new parenting techniques before using them
with their child.

Vroom This website focuses on infant, toddler and preschool brain building and contains videos, printable
materials and tip sheets.

Countdown to Growing Up Tool Checklists developed specifically for fathers by the National Fatherhood Initiative, which help to identify milestones achieved by children from one month to eighteen plus years.

Make Time for Nine Quick and easy tips to help you build your relationship with your children in 9 minutes a day.

Evidence-Based Parent Education Programs The highest quality programs are called “evidence-based”
because they have been tested and proven to really work for parents and kids. These programs are offered in
different parts of Wisconsin:
• Triple P Positive Parenting Program
• Nurturing Parenting Program
• ACT Raising Safe Kids
• The Incredible Years
• Strengthening Families 10-14

To find out if one of these programs is available in your area, check out this map of parent education providers or contact family resource centers, community centers, family physicians, libraries, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Head Start, childcare centers or schools.

Community Campaigns There may be specific community wide efforts available in your area that are
designed to help parents with resources that support early learning and future school success. They often
sponsor fun, free community activities for young children and their families. Campaigns available in various
parts of the state include:
• Talk Read Play
• Born Learning
• Success by Six
• Cradle to Career

Additional Resources

CDC Parenting Information This website offers parents information from pregnancy through the teen years. Parents can learn how to handle common parenting challenges using interactive activities and videos.

Learn the Signs; Act Early Learn what to expect and watch for as your child grows from infancy through the preschool years on this website.

Zero to Three Find information on a wide range of infancy, toddler and the preschool age topics on this website.

Just in Time Parenting Parents can sign up to receive a series of newsletters, specific to their child’s age, that come via email each month.

Parents Toolkit Blogposts and videos are posted for parents of school age children through young adults.

Successful Black Parenting This online magazine is specifically geared to Black parents.

Fatherly This fun website is specific to dads and has a practical advice column called Ask the Goodfather. It’s full of information, so mothers might want to check it out also.

Dadtalk This blog provides easy to read, well researched posts on topics for fathers.