Child development program in Belize aim to build knowledge and skills for early childhood providers

Child development program builds skills for caregivers

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UNICEF

07 October 2019

The Care for Child development program in Belize builds capacity, knowledge and skills in early childhood providers to counsel the caregiver on understanding the physical, communication, cognitive and social-emotional development of children ages 0-3.

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All children deserve to be loved and nurtured. However, many children in Belize, especially children with disabilities, do not receive adequate attention, stimulation or care.

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Neglect of a child can stem from a variety of issues, such as a mom suffering from postpartum depression. Neglect is one form of violence against a child.

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Some parents even have a hard time picking up on signals. Being unable to interpret a child’s signals can lead to frustration, depression etc. Therefore, it is important for a caregiver to be responsive. For example, when a baby cries, a mother should know to check if the baby is hungry, and if so, breastfeeding the child can make him stop crying.

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Thanks to UNICEF and the trained early childhood providers, many parents will get a chance to practice responsive care and support for their children, through play and communication.

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Coaching and encouraging parents in play and communication lead to improved early childhood stimulation care and practices.  

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The parent must be patient and follow the child’s lead in play. By following the child’s lead the parent will have a better grasp of how to be more engaging. In Care for Child Development, caregivers are counselled on how to use to play to communicate with the child. Patience is important in strengthening the bond between the caregiver and the child.

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The underlying aim is to foster the nurturing of the child, by interacting with them and teaching them. Children learn by trying new things and by observing and copying what others do. At times the child may seem unresponsive but parents should remain persistent. One activity used to kick-start the interaction between a caregiver and an unresponsive child is Peek a boo.

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Once you are able to get a response, it is important to praise the child, as the positive reinforcement will produce further responsiveness from the child. Once the child is happy, the caregiver is happy; and a smile goes a very long way in encouraging a child.

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Another great activity is reading. Reading to the child aids in the language and brain development of the child.  Reading also stimulates interaction between the caregiver and the child. In addition to this, reading provides a great opportunity for the parent to pick up on the child’s signals and respond to them.

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Ordinary items such as a colored object, a rattle, or a metal pot spoon can get a child’s attention and stimulate a reaction from them. Children learn by trying new things and feeling different textures. So playing with an everyday household object such as a stack of cups, can elicit responses from a child.

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Through counselling with CCD, parents will be more attentive and responsive to the child. The child will become more comfortable to interact with caregivers once he/she feels the responsive care and support.

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By practicing patience, interacting, stimulating the child and most importantly responding to signals will strengthen the bond between parent and child.

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Bonding with your child provides emotional benefits not only for the child, but also for the parent.  The joy a mother can get from her child’s interaction is priceless. Remember, all children whether healthy, sick or with a disability, need a parent’s love and responsive care to grow and learn.