Support for parenting: why it’s important
Being a parent is an important job. To do the job well, all parents need to learn new skills as their children grow and develop. And all parents need practical support for raising children.
When parents have the support they need, it’s good for children’s health, development and wellbeing. It’s also good for parents.
Learning about children’s health and growth
It’s good to learn how to keep your child healthy and growing well. You can get help to learn about:
- what food to give your child
- how to help your child get enough sleep
- how to play, talk and read with your child
- when your child might be sick and need to see a doctor
- how to keep your child safe, both at home and away from home.
Managing daily life with your child
You might need practical support with daily life. This might include help to:
- manage busy times of the day – for example, help to get your child ready for school in the morning
- get organised – for example, help to remember when and how to do things
- manage your home – for example, help with cooking, cleaning or gardening to make your home a healthy and safe place for your child.
Helping your child learn and take part in activities
Children need a lot of opportunities to play and learn. You might need practical support so your child can take part in activities. This might include help to:
- find activities you can do with your child, like swimming classes or playgroup
- prepare for the activities, like packing things you need to take
- get yourself and your child to the activity.
You might also need support when your child goes to school. This support might be someone who can:
- go to school meetings or parent-teacher interviews with you
- help you set up homework routines for your child.
Learning about children’s behaviour
If you know about children’s behaviour, you can help your child learn to play well and get along with others. Parenting programs can help with this.
At a parenting program you might learn about:
- how to support your child’s learning and development
- how to encourage behaviour that’s good for your child
- what to do if your child’s behaviour is causing them problems.
You can do some parenting programs in a place that you choose – for example, in your home. It’s good if people who help you with your child do the parenting program too. This might be family members or support workers. Then you can all use the same tips to help your child play well and get along with others.
Doing paperwork and going to meetings
It might be easier for you to manage paperwork, forms and meetings if you get support. A trusted worker, friend or advocate can:
- go with you to meetings or appointments about your child – they can help you say what you want and remember things for later
- help you understand and fill out forms – for example, Centrelink forms or school forms.
People who can support you
Many people can support you directly or find services to support you.
Family and friends
You can ask family, friends or other parents you know for help. They might be able to:
- help you find information and make decisions
- go to meetings with you
- write letters or emails or help you fill out forms.
You can talk to your GP about your child’s health and growth. Your GP can also help you find local parenting programs, child and family health nurses and playgroups.
Child and family health nurses
Child and family health nurses can help you learn about looking after your baby. For example, they can help you learn how to:
- breastfeed your baby
- wash your baby
- change your baby’s nappy.
As your child grows, child and family health nurses can also:
- check your child is developing well
- help you learn about introducing solids, toilet training, sleep and children’s behaviour.
Hospitals and other health services might have social workers who can support you. Social workers can help you find local parenting programs, child and family health nurses and other services. And they can help you in meetings – for example, meetings with your child’s teachers.
A disability advocate can help you say what you want for yourself and your child. These organisations can help you find an advocate:
- Australia wide: People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
- Australian Capital Territory: ADACAS
- New South Wales: IDRS
- Northern Territory: Disability Advocacy Service Inc. (DAS)
- Queensland: Speaking Up For You (SUFY)
- South Australia: Disability Rights Advocacy Service Inc. (DRAS)
- Tasmania: Speak Out Advocacy
- Victoria: Positive Powerful Parents
- Western Australia: Developmental Disability WA (DDWA)
Other professional people
There are other professional people who can support you with your parenting. For example:
- An occupational therapist can help you learn how to make your home a safe place for you and your child to live in.
- A dietitian can help you work out what food to give your child.
- A support worker can help you make appointments for your child and take you to the appointments.
- A psychologist can listen to you and help you when you’re feeling worried or anxious about parenting.
- A speech therapist can help you learn how to talk with your child.
You might have to pay to get support from these people. Or you might be able to get support from a community health service, where these kinds of people sometimes work.
Online and telephone services
You can also get support from online and telephone services, including:
- Triple P Positive Parenting Program – free online parenting course
- the parenting helpline in your state or territory.
When you look after yourself, you’re better able to look after your child. It’s good to make time for things you enjoy and spend time with people you trust. It’s also good to have someone you can talk to. If you’re struggling, your GP can help you find a psychologist or counsellor to talk to. If you need to talk to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 131 114.
Getting help for parenting through the NDIS
If you have an NDIS plan, you might be able to get support for your parenting through the NDIS. To get this support, speak to your local area coordinator or your NDIA planner about having ‘support for parenting’ as a goal in your NDIS plan.
If you’re not in the NDIS and you’d like NDIS support, you’ll need to apply. You can get help with this. You could start by talking to your GP, a child and family health nurse, another health professional, a friend or family member, or a disability worker.
If your child has a disability or developmental delay, your child might have their own NDIS plan. This plan will be separate from your NDIS plan, and your child’s plan will have different support needs in their plan.