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 feel like you know what to expect as your child grows?
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Being able to recognize developmental milestones (the way children play, think, learn, speak, act and move at certain ages) can be useful for you and your child. As your child’s first and most important teacher, you want to know what to watch for so you can support their learning. Plus, having realistic expectations based on your child’s age will help you avoid frustrations and enjoy your time together more.
Do you ever obsess over parenting mistakes?
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Expecting yourself never to make mistakes is unrealistic. Luckily, kids don’t need perfect parents. Acknowledging the missteps you’ve made—by taking responsibility for your actions and by making a plan to make things better—can actually build your confidence. Even better, you show your kids how to admit to mistakes, recover from them and treat others with honesty and kindness.
Do you know where to turn when you’re not sure what to do about a parenting issue?
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When something has worked in the past, we tend to stick with it. That can leave parents struggling when children or challenges change. Filling your family toolbox with a wide variety of parenting strategies and resources can help. Parent education classes and groups are a great way to learn tried-and-true approaches from people who work with parents and kids every day. Ask if a parent education class is “evidence-based” or “evidence-informed”—these descriptions mean a class has had proven results for parents.

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: 

Places to go for information and support:

  • Family Resource Centers
  • Community Centers
  • Libraries
  • Physicians or nurses
  • Childcare providers
  • Behavioral health providers or counselors
  • 211 Information or Referral

What to look for:

  • Be a critical consumer. You know your child’s needs best.
  • Examine the approach of parenting advice, information or programming. Will it help solve your challenge?
  • Getting advice from family and friends can be helpful, but remember that advice often comes from personal experience rather than an in-depth knowledge of child development.

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. 

Parenting on the Go

Having interesting things to do supports children’s learning and prevents problem behavior. With a little preparation, you can share quality time with your child when you are out and about.

Get equipped: Pack a bag of toys, books or art supplies that you can take anywhere.

Play while you wait: Play, draw or read together in long lines and waiting rooms.

Enjoy the ride: Bus or car trips are a great time to talk, tell stories or play “I Spy.”

Share daily chores: Talk to your baby as you do errands, encourage little ones to help and allow older kids to share decision making.

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.

Additional Information

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.

Talking Builds Brains

To grow and develop, your child’s brain needs to hear thousands of words every day from the time they are born. Luckily, parents, siblings, caregivers and relatives are all great sources of conversation. Talking together teaches kids new words and helps them learn to communicate and problem solve.

Describe your world: Narrate the everyday things you see and do for babies.

Stop and listen: Take a few moments. Give your full attention. Set aside times for longer conversations.

Keep it going: Ask questions, give kids time to respond, and build on what they know with new words and information.

Foster Growth With Activities

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.

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

Make Time for Nine

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

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.