Early Childhood

Parenting Programmes

© UNICEF/Myanmar/Myo Thame
May plays at the Caregiver Circle in Myanmar

All children have the need for and the right to parenting. Parenting means providing the ongoing care and support a child needs in order to survive and thrive. Such ongoing  care and support includes making sure the child has:

  • protection from physical danger
  • adequate nutrition and health care
  • responsive and loving interactions with significant, consistent people
  • consistent expectations from his/her immediate environment and from adults
  • encouragement for using effective language
  • opportunities to learn cooperation, sharing and helping
  • a chance to develop independence, take responsibility and make choices
  • opportunities to engage in activities that support cognitive development
  • support in the development of self-worth and a positive sense of mastery
  • opportunity for socialization to become group member and to have a cultural identity, i.e. a sense of belonging
  • positive role models

If children are to develop to their full potential, ongoing parentalcare and support through parenting is crucial.  However, parents worldwide face tremendous obstacles such as the effects of HIV/AIDS, drug use, increased poverty, having to leave hometown to find work, the effects of armed conflict and so on.  Parents often do not have the skills, knowledge or resources to raise children to their full potential.  In order to give families the skills and knowledge to provide care, feeding and protection, UNICEF focuses on parenting programmes tailored to the varying needs of children and their caregivers/parents.  For example, programmes can focus on training mothers or caregivers to understand their children's development and to respond appropriately or suggest ways for fathers to become more active in the lives of their children.  They can also focus on providing parents with skills that, while not directly related to parenting, will enhance the parent’s ability to parent,  Such skills can include job skills courses to enable parents to earn more income which would result in their ability to devote more resources for the health, nutrition and education of their children.

How does UNICEF do it?  UNICEF works with national and local media to get basic but effective messages out. Trained professionals visit homes and provide guidance to parents and/or caregivers. Volunteers and trainers talk with parents on a one-to-one basis or in groups. Parent groups share their experiences and learn from each other.  Including communities in the dialogue allows UNICEF to reach more parents and more young children to get the support they need for their development. When parents have access to necessary skills and information, children grow to their full potential -- emotionally secure, socially confident, mentally alert, and healthy.




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