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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Learn the Signs. Act Early"

Visit the "Learn the Signs. Act Early" website for information about childhood developmental milestones and delays. You'll be able to track the developmental milestones your child should be reaching, see how milestones change as your child grows, and download fact sheets on developmental milestones for children from 3 months to 5 years, along with information on developmental screening and developmental disabilities


Please take our Grandparent & Relative Survey   (only once please)

Most of us are not raising our grandchildren or another relative's child or children because we have an overwhelming desire to start a family all over again. We are raising the children because they need our help and love. That fact can be overwhelming in and of itself at times. When children are taken from a parent and raised by another, there are always reasons, and those reasons are often accompanied with trauma, sorrow, and grief. If everything were going great, chances are, the children would still be with their parents. So, no matter how much we love our grandchildren and no matter how much better we think life will be for them with us, the children are going to experience confusing feelings that will need to be addressed, especially as parents may or may not be bopping in and out of their lives. Grandparents are often unsure of the proper way to talk with children about their parent's situation, and sometimes require professional assistance.

What needs to be done to help the children will depend on numerous variables -- the age of the children, their educational abilities or lack thereof, their physical health, and so important, their emotional health. It is important to remember that not only adults experience depression and anxiety. Many children suffer tremendously from anxiety attacks and situational or clinical depression. They may experience internal conflict regarding those they love. They may feel anger, guilt, and even fear. One grandmother noticed that after her 4-year-old granddaughter talked with the child's mother on the phone, the little girl wet the bed for a week and even wet her pants during the day. This was something very unusual for her. The child's mother had tried to tell her that her father (who was incarcerated) loved her and was sorry he had not been nice. The little girl had witnessed and experienced severe traumatic events caused by her father and the effect of the phone call had been negative rather than positive. The grandmother was able to explain to the child's therapist who was working with her what her reaction had been. Seeking professional counseling for children who have been victims of abuse or neglect can be not only helpful for the child but a support to the grandparent or kinship parent as well.

The following are agencies and institutions that can be helpful when determining what is needed to help our children:

  • Social Services: Social Workers who are child advocates can be very helpful in finding needed services in your area.

  • Schools: Children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect or are away from the parents they love may experience problems in school and also develop behavior problems. There may be learning disabilities and health problems caused by either physiological or psychological reasons. The schools can be a great resource in determining needs and either providing services or providing referrals to other agencies.

  • Pediatricians and Community Health Centers: Find a good pediatrician who you have confidence in and can rely on for support. Many health centers offer health education and nutrition counseling.

  • Health Department: The Health Department can also be a good resource for nutrition services. Many of the problems children experience can be helped with proper nutrition.

Healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and adequate sleep cannot be overemphasized when dealing with individuals of all ages and especially with children. Highly processed "Junk" foods containing high amounts of fat and sugars along with a sedentary lifestyle can wreck havoc on anyone's life including children. As children grow, their bodies and brains require proper nutrition to function properly. Learn everything you can about proper health habits for yourself and your children.

Creating a healthy and safe environment both physically and emotionally is vital if we are to help these children know how valuable they are as human beings and help them piece their lives back together again. Plenty of good activities that will allow them to learn new ways of living and seeing things are invaluable. This is an opportunity for them to learn and develop new memories. Creating a safe environment can be a challenge to grandparents who have not had small children in their homes for years. Click here for several excellent ideas on child-proofing your home.

Positive interaction with our grandchildren, especially when they are experiencing behavior problems, can be a challenge, but it is something that is very important to develop. As we set boundaries for the children and find that balance of love and discipline, the children need to know that we believe they are incredibly talented and special. A good motto when dealing with children is "Firm yet Kind" with an emphasis on kindness. Children must learn acceptable behavior in order to function properly in society, but we must teach that lesson in kindness.

Having fun with our grandchildren is important in lessening the stress and softening the burden everyone in the household may be experiencing. Playing and laughing on a child or teenager's level can help us remember what is really important. Humor is good for the soul, everybody's' soul. So learn to play. Relearn if you have to. If you look back when raising your own children and you say, "Gee, I wish I had done that differently." well now is your chance. You can do things differently. Remind yourself, in the scope of life, does this really matter? Some things do and some things just don't.

One thing to remember as grandparents and kinship parents is that as we do the very best we can do, it is ultimately the children who will decide, as they mature, how they are going to respond to our love and efforts. We must not fall into the mistake of thinking that we will fix everything for them. We cannot. They will continue to face challenges and even uncertainties. But, one thing we can do is to be sure that no matter what, they know that we will always love them.



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Grandparents who raise grandchildren are more than caregivers. They are parents, educators, and spiritual leaders

I want my own pet. She can share my room.

Wow! look at all of this healthy food at the Children's Museum?

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