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Connecting with babies and their families….even when it’s hard

Connected Beginnings Training Institute talks to Early Head Start providers

Mary Watson Avery, Connected Beginnings Training Institute director, recently led a discussion with over 60 Early Head Start caregivers and trainers in Nashua, New Hampshire. Early Head Start is a federal program provided nationwide to prenatal mothers and children up to three years old and their families.

Mary’s talk, “Connecting with babies and their families…even when it’s hard”, focused on how Early Head Start caregivers can build relationships and sustain relationships with the children’s primary caregivers.

This included reinforcing the practice of essential professional skills when it comes to working with families, including:

  • Self-reflection
  • Shared reflection
  • Perspective-taking

Avery then led a group activity of finishing several prompts of self-reflection including:

  • Working with babies is great because
  • Working with babies is hard because
  • Working with families is important/hard…
  • I wish families knew…
  • It is easier to work with parents when they…

These kinds of practices “not about getting a ‘tougher skin’”, said Avery, “but rather getting your ‘sea legs’ that are supportive and strong.”

Also discussed were the practices related to “family centeredness”. Family is the primary caregiver(s) and individuals who have regular contact with the child. Family centeredness” acknowledges that families have a considerable and essential role in the development of the child. In turn, the child’s behaviors affect the quality of life of the family.

Some families can bring with them difficult situations and conjure up troubling feelings. These are tough situations that need to be recognized and discussed.

“Taking care of yourself is never wasted time,” added Avery.

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