Although according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the teen birth rate is on the decline, there were still 329,797 babies born to teenage moms in the year 2011 alone. From crying colicky nights to toddler tantrums, coping with a baby isn't easy for any parent, let alone a teen. Teens who are currently parenting infants can learn strategies that will help them to better deal with the challenges.
1. Create a Plan
Instead of waiting for the baby to get here and hoping that everything will work out, teen parents can create a child-rearing plan that includes where the mother and baby will live, who will pay for what and who will watch the baby when the parents are at work or school. Unlike older, adult parents who are more likely to live together, teen moms and dads may live in separate homes. This adds another layer to the parenting plan, in which the teens must come up with a reasonable schedule for visitation and decide where the child will actually live.
2. Relaxation and Leisure Activities
As if raising a child weren't challenging enough on its own, doing this during the teen years makes it even more of a hurdle to jump. Teens may not have the maturity to handle parenting full-time or may have additional stress brought on by finishing high school or trying to make ends meet financially. Engaging in relaxation or leisure time activities can help a teen to cope with raising an infant. This doesn't mean that a teen parent should go out with her friends every night, but instead that she should take some time once in a while to have a calm dinner in a restaurant with her BFF in an effort to de-stress.
3. Understanding Child Development
By the time that an infant is 7 months old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, he can roll over, sit up, babble sounds and explore with his hands and his mouth. Understanding these and other developmental milestones can make the difference between a teen stressing over what her baby is doing and understanding that the infant's actions are perfectly normal. Having a grasp of what to expect and when to expect it can help a teen parent better cope with infant care and day-to-day actions and behaviors. Teens can get this information from medical professionals, parent support groups, early childhood educators and by reading books and websites such as the Healthy Children website.
4. Finding Help
Parenting on your own is a challenging task for anyone, let alone a teenager who is still a child herself. Finding help, whether it's from a parent support group or directly from mom and dad, can make a difference in how a teen copes with her infant. Although the teen's parents shouldn't raise the child themselves, they can offer guidance and emotional support to the adolescent mom or dad. Additionally, getting together with other teen moms and dads to discuss challenges and triumphs and share information can help when it comes to parenting. Finally, if providing for the child is something the teen parents can't manage, they can apply to local social service agencies, which may be able to help with health care and nutrition for the baby.
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