What's my dot?

Get inspired to do more for your family, and families in your community

 

Research shows that there are five protective factors that, when present, enhance the lives of children and families and the communities they live in. Below, we have organized examples of actions little and big that could be your "dot" (or one of your many dots!) that are based on these protective factors. Some of these ideas take just a few minutes, but make a huge difference! Click on each heading to expand. 

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    In Your Own Family
  • Let people know when you need help
  • Ask your friend or family member to be your emergency child care
  • Create a budget and track your monthly income v. expenses
  • Dial 2-1-1 to find out about organizations that support families in your area
  • Find out whether you are eligible for benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or state health insurance
  • Open a savings account to prepare for unexpected expenses
  • Find out what classes your library or community center offers. Sign up for one that appeals to you.

  • With Families You Know
  • Offer to pick up a child from school when parents are under stress
  • Talk to friends about organizing a babysitting co-op
  • Offer other families useful items you no longer need, like clothes your child has outgrown, sports equipment, or toys.
  • Organize school and extracurricular activity carpools
  • Bring a meal to a family going through transition-new baby, death in the family, divorce, moving.
  • Host a coupon clipping/swapping party
  • Assist the children's director in your place of worship to reach out to programs in your community that serve children and families with updates about special events or ongoing opportunities
  • Organize a "free garage sale" where families bring items they might have discarded to share freely.

  • With Families in Your Community
  • Donate gently used baby or child items to families in need
  • Volunteer at a domestic violence shelter
  • Sponsor a clothes drive in order to donate to your local clothes closet
  • Volunteer at a food pantry
  • Create a bulletin board (physical or virtual) where families can post needs and others can post items or services available
  • Participate in a "community baby shower"
  • Attend town hall meetings and other community forums to advocate for children and families
  • Plan a toy, coupon or book exchange in your neighborhood
  • Host an afternoon focused on educational opportunities, with information about college, training and GED programs locally available
  • Ask your school principal or PTA to organize a "community resources" night at the school


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    In Your Own Family
  • Role-play emotions with your children- acting out what you do when you're happy, sad or frustrated
  • Ask a librarian to recommend good books about feelings to read with your children
  • Teach your child to resolve conflicts peacefullyd
  • Talk to your child about how he or she would respond in a difficult social situation and discuss the pros and cons of different reactions
  • Establish a daily routine so your child knows what to expect
  • "Catch" your children being good and praise their positive behavior
  • Follow your child's lead during playtime
  • Ask your children who is important to them and why

  • With Families You Know
  • Be a consistent, supportive person in the life of a child- particularly a child with a difficult home life
  • Babysit the older siblings of a new baby to give parents time to focus on the baby
  • Make conversation with children about their feelings and thoughts
  • When meeting with friends, take the time to check in with each child. Ask what is bringing them peace and taking away their peace and then thank them for sharing
  • Give books as gifts for children's birthdays and holidays

  • With Families in Your Community
  • Speak out against bullying
  • Make eye contact and smile at babies and children you encounter
  • Support the use of social-emotional curriculum in schools and preschools
  • Create a bulletin board (at a school, preschool, grocery store, or any public place) about the importance of reading with children
  • Share information about the importance of social and emotional development in your local newspaper


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    In Your Own Family
  • Write down questions for your next appointment with your child's doctor
  • Explore the world from your child's point of view
  • Reflect on the parenting you received as a child and how that impacts how you parent today
  • Find a local parenting class or workshop
  • Sit and observe what your child can or cannot do. Discuss any concerns with your child's teacher or doctor
  • Hold, cuddle and hug your children often
  • Read a book about discipline or child development
  • Have regular conversation with your child's pediatrician, child care provider or other adults who interact with your child about everyday behaviors, challenges and accomplishments. Be sure to share what you are experiencing and expecting. This will cultivate better understanding and learning for everyone who is nurturing your child, including you.
  • Keep a journal of things that you are observing about your child. You can utilize a set series of questions you might ask yourself about both your child and about your feelings and interaction with your child and reminders about ways you are encouraging your child's healthy development

  • With Families You Know
  • Start a conversation with another parent about how they handle challenging behaviors in their children
  • Compliment another parent on his or her parenting style
  • Talk to other parents about where you turn for parenting advice-websites, people in your community, etc.
  • Refer another parent to your favorite child development website or loan them your favorite parenting book
  • Share child development websites like ZeroToThree.org through Facebook or Twitter
  • Discuss your expectations for your child's behavior with another parent of a child the same age
  • Invite a friend to take a parenting class with you
  • Organize a Parent Café
  • Host a conversation circle in your home (parent's circle, grandparent's circle) and encourage participants to discuss current opportunities and challenges they are facing as they nurture the children in their family

  • With Families in Your Community
  • Donate your parenting books to the library
  • Talk to your faith community about ways to be more supportive of parents
  • Create a parenting resource library at your place of work
  • Praise good parenting when you see it out in public
  • Volunteer at a family resource center
  • Organize an event for parents with a speaker who is an expert on child development or parenting
  • Work with a library or bookstore to create a display of parenting books and DVDs
  • Ask local preschools to add a "no spanking" policy to their parent handbooks


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    In Your Own Family
  • Set goals for yourself and list the steps you will need to take to accomplish them
  • Make time to do something YOU enjoy-with your children or without
  • Talk to a trusted friend when you feel stressed, overwhelmed or sad
  • Make a list of your personal accomplishments
  • Learn techniques to help you stay calm in times of stress (meditation, deep breathing, etc)
  • Take advantage of local programs such as "Mother's Day Out" at churches to allow time to recharge or take care of tasks that need to be done
  • Participate in opportunities in your community where you can meet other moms or dads- such as "Donuts for Dads" or "Muffins with Moms"- so that you can meet other parents who are facing challenges similar to those in your family

  • With Families You Know
  • Make a "how are you doing?" phone call or visit to a family with a new baby
  • Help a parent "catch their child being good"
  • Surprise a neighbor with a homemade treat
  • Try to distract a young child whose behavior is challenging a parent at the grocery store
  • Listen with empathy when a parent shares his or her struggles
  • When a parent you know is struggling, share a story of some steps you took to continue being a good parent through a difficult time

  • With Families in Your Community
  • Create a "dream board" in a public space where community members can post their hopes and dreams
  • Advocate for greater access to mental healthcare in your community
  • Volunteer for the day care offering at events in your neighborhood or at your place of worship
  • Encourage your doctor or clinic to screen all mothers of infants for maternal depression
  • Encourage programs that serve children and families to provide training for staff on family crisis
  • Work with a program that serves children and families to provide each family with a community resource packet upon enrollment; this might include a parent portfolio where they can keep medical records, evaluations, court reports, etc. in a mobile packet to take to the doctor's office, school meetings, court, etc.


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    In Your Own Family
  • Get outside! Chat with neighbors or visit a local park with your child
  • Attend local family-friendly events
  • Find and join a local parent support group or online community
  • sit churches, temples, or mosques until you find one that meets your and your children's needs
  • Offer to provide free child care for a family member who seems to need a break so that they can make a trip to the grocery store or other errands that need to be done alone
  • Make a play date with another family- for children to play and parents to chat

  • With Families You Know
  • Start a rotating potluck dinner group with other parents and their children
  • Establish a regular weekly or monthly play group with other families with children around the same age
  • Organize a kickball or soccer game for dads and kids from your child care program, school, or neighborhood
  • Reach out to welcome a new family to your neighborhood
  • Invite a friend to join you for a parenting class or other activity
  • Start a book club
  • Mentor a parent who is new to an organization you are a part of
  • Invite a neighborhood family to attend a local special event, such as a holiday parade, with your family
  • Consider planning or participating in events where you can exchange personal stories and ideas about the children you care about

  • With Families in Your Community
  • Organize "stroller walks" for new parents to meet up and talk while they walk
  • Organize an email list or Facebook group for families in your neighborhood to connect with each other
  • Volunteer to advertise community events on local bulletin boards
  • Use Meetup.com to invite parents to a social gathering or playgroup
  • Strike up a conversation with other parents at a playground
  • Volunteer to work on a newsletter for parents in the child care program that serves your child/children
  • Engage with your local child/family-serving program (child care center, family resource center, etc.) to plan a "Mother's Day Makeover"- with children doing the makeover with their mom
  • Help to plan a summer play group for children in your neighborhood