This is a major time of adjustment for them and they’re often sleep-deprived and frazzled. Here are a few tips to help you support them as best you can.
Be Slow to Offer Advice
Being a parent is difficult. When someone is doing the best they can, they often don’t need advice, but instead, need encouragement. So when you find yourself about to say, “You should probably try xyz,” instead say something like, “I can see that you’re such a good mom/dad and trying really hard. It’s so nice to see a parent who loves their child so much and cares so much.”
If you still want to offer advice, you might gently tell them you experienced something similar and if they ever want to hear what worked for you, you’d be happy to share–however, you realize every child is different. That’s a much kinder approach than making a parent feel alone and like they’re not good enough.
Allow Them More Time Than Usual
Realize that parents of young children have to deal with a million interruptions before they walk out the door. Where are the baby’s shoes? Did you forget the diaper bag? Is there enough milk in the bag? If you’re planning to meet at a specific time, allow them a little grace and be flexible.
Don’t Take Things Personally
If a child does something that hurts your feelings, the parents may try to make YOU feel better instead of addressing the child’s actions/feelings. Realize that you’re the adult and allow the parents to address behaviors and feelings of their child–they’re the ones who are learning, after all!
Ask Before Acting
Make sure you’re in the habit of checking with a parent before you pick up a child or offer him/her something to eat. Parents know what their kids need and what bothers them, you do not, even if you’ve had kids. Ask mom and dad first before acting! They’ll appreciate you showing that level of respect to them and their kids.