Optimal development in the early years depends so much on the quality of the caretaking environment provided by the parents – good nutrition, immunization, a safe environment to reduce the risk of injuries, and, most importantly, warm, consistent and responsive parenting (Oberklaid, 2023). Responsive parenting is a type of care in which parents recognize children’s perspectives (their moods, needs, interests, and abilities) and provide consistent, timely, and appropriate responses. It is defined as a three-step process that requires parents to observe and interpret children’s cues and act to respond to children’s interests or needs. This aspect of early parenting has been found to predict cognitive, socio-emotional, and brain development in young children.
The primary caregivers are a child’s environment’s most crucial proximal element. The evidence clearly shows that we can invest now by supporting favorable conditions and environments for healthy development through implementing evidence-based parenting interventions or paying more later in the form of costly remediation, health care, mental health services, and increased rates of incarceration.
This webinar explores how we can support parental mental health and parenting skills to ensure optimal parent-child interactions and children’s development, as well as strategies to promote mental health in early childhood. UNICEF’S vision for elevating parenting will be also presented, including the three elements of support for parenting and the pyramid of parenting support.
Additionally, two concrete examples of parenting interventions for early childhood development (ECD) will be shared. The intervention packages encompass:
(i) Bebbo App, a mobile parenting application designed to support parents and other caregivers of children from zero to six years old.
(ii) Caring for the Caregiver, a training module that translates well-established evidence on how to support emotional well-being and mental health, presenting these in practical activities which encourage self-care, family engagement and social support. The training package provides curriculum for training frontline workers to address barriers to responsive caregiving and it provides supporting implementation materials for counselling caregivers.