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Parents – the hidden frontline workers

Last month was Playful Parenting Month and there were lots of fascinating debates, posts and events happening across the globe. One particular event struck a chord last week hosted by ECDAN (The Early Childhood Development Action Network) with a call to action, spearheaded by leading organizations in the field, to support parents.

ECDAN said how parents and the environment at home are central to supporting children’s health and development and that the quality of parenting practices is a key determinant of every child’s ability to develop their cognitive, emotional and social potential, and resilience against adversity. We could not agree more – parents are on the frontline 24/7, without training and often without adequate resources for the job. ECDAN invited partners to join them to elevate parenting and family support so that every child and their family can receive the support they need for optimal development, as the foundation of building human capital.

What became apparent during the presentations was the unprecedented challenges parents have faced over the past 18 months as schools have been closed, lockdowns imposed and opportunities previously available for child development denied them. On top of this parents have faced their own challenges in employment, wellbeing and social support.

Here at CreateCATT we believe that human relationships are paramount in child development and that is why we have put attachment and safety as a key foundation of the Developmental Play Pyramid. We call this Nurture Capital. Parents are key to this process, as ECDAN says. Love matters, and we need to see and support the fundamental role parents play in raising children and building the stable societies of tomorrow. And we need to support and equip them to do this to the best of their ability.

Children do not come with a guidebook – as a parent myself I realised that all too acutely when I had my first child. I’d studied child development twice, I’d worked with people with mental health problems, I’d been raised by two loving and supportive parents, but nothing could prepare me for my first child. The love, the sleep exhaustion, the competitive parenting that was so prevalent in my society made it an at times overwhelming journey.

In challenging times such as we are living through now, many parents are completely frazzled and find themselves struggling to provide the support their children need, while trying to keep themselves and their own lives together. How do you keep your career running over Zoom around a small kitchen table where your children are home-schooling, and you are all locked up in a small flat? When adults feel anxious and out of control, how do we help children feel safe and to develop in the way they need?

Add to this a child who learns differently and who needs specialist support to reach their full potential and the situation becomes even more overwhelming. As a clinician it is always a privilege to work with parents who share these experiences with me and together we create solutions that help their child develop. This is not an easy road they have to tread, and these are the lucky ones who can access support. We know that in many countries these kinds of services are sparse or nonexistent.

Please can we acknowledge and raise our hands for parents, and realise that they are frontline workers, they are first responders, and that they need our support more than ever.

To find out more about the ECDAN Call to action visit:

For more information on our Developmental Play Model that supports parents to understand how their children develop through play visit:

Check out our Nurture Capital whitepaper in our previous blog:

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