SIERRA VISTA — What a child sees is what the parents will get.
“Every single parent wants their child to be respectful,” said Rebecca Hetherington, Program Supervisor for Healthy Families at Child & Family Resources Inc. in Sierra Vista. “They need to see their parents be respectful for them to be respectful.”
Hetherington and Kristy Beerman, instructional specialist and parent educator specialist for the University of Arizona Sierra Vista, are working to help parents in the community understand the instrumental role parents or caregivers have on children and what impact they have on the community.
“Everything starts with the adult or caregiver in the home,” Hethering said. “A child’s attachment style is set at 6 or 7 months. It’s the foundation for everything.”
There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious and ambivalent, anxious avoidant and disorganized. Secure attachment is the best form and what parents should strive for. It occurs when a parent responds to a child’s needs with love. Hetherington said disorganized is where the most severe behaviors, like substance abuse, will be seen.
One of the attitudes that can lead to a negative upbringing is not understanding that children want attention and they actually need it to progress positively. The need to feel important and able to contribute stems from previous times when kids did more work around the house.
“In past eras kids had to contribute to their families,” Beerman said. “Over time we’ve grown to treating them more like children.”
Because of this change, children have this need of wanting a purpose and being able to contribute. To help with this, Beerman recommends letting them help in the kitchen or giving them chores as soon as they are able to.
“Kids are more likely to follow rules they help create,” Beerman said. “It’s not developmentally appropriate before age 3 to give chores.”
Both Beerman and Hetherington agree a negative atmosphere at home early in a child’s life, including abuse and neglect, puts the child at a disadvantage throughout their life and can cause the reputation of bad behaviors.
In 2017, which is the most recent available data, there were 875 reported cases of child neglect and abuse in Cochise County, according to the Arizona Department of Child Safety Semi-Annual Child Welfare Reporting Requirements.
In an effort to strengthen local communities, UA Sierra Vista is hosting a number of positive parenting workshop to help educate parents and caregivers about how to discipline in a positive way in order to have a better relationship.
Beerman says the best way to build a strong and sturdy relationship with children is to show dedication, have patience, be compassionate and be understanding.
“Watch your children,” she said. “Parents should be checking in at least once a day.”
There are workshops during the week and on the weekend over the course of the upcoming months to try and accommodate the public. For more info, contact Beerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.