Raising Relationships Podcast: Improving Connections with Young Children

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If you are a parent and a podcast lover, then the Raising Relationships podcast is for you! The podcast, created by the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA), offers parents and educators extra support and guidance for building strong bonds with young children in their lives. The podcast also discusses the rise in preschool expulsion, and what parents and educators can do to reduce these numbers. Thank you to SCIMHA for sponsoring this article.

We spoke with Amaris Gibson (MA, LPC-A, IMH-E® Infant Family Specialist) who is co-host with Tiffany Stenson (Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Training Specialist) to learn more about the themes of the podcast. We also discussed why your child’s mental health and socio-emotional development is so important. The open discussion format of the podcast explores the realities and difficulties of raising and connecting with young children.

The Raising Relationships podcast artwork

One of the Raising Relationship podcast’s underlying goals is to show parents that they do not have to parent alone. There is a vast, multidisciplinary community of experts and organizations available to help parents and educators of young children thrive!

What is SCIMHA?

It doesn’t come as a surprise that raising kids is hard. Especially when they are young and have big emotions and big behaviors! SCIMHA is the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association. The organization is working with both parents and educators to cultivate strong relationships with children from infancy. 

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SCIMHA also works to ensure that parents and educators have the knowledge and tools to form a strong community to support these children. They want to bring everyone to the same page in terms of raising confident and mentally healthy children.

The Goals of SCIMHA

One of SCIMHA’s ultimate goals is “Focusing on the early relationship, how critical these early relationships are for setting the template of future relationships and their overall wellness” says Amaris. 

SCIMHA CEO Kerrie Schnake states in S1E1 of the Raising Relationships podcast that infants and young children need the “opportunity to establish a relationship a foundation for mental health that will last their lifetime… a secure relationship. That each baby has a least 1 person who is attached to them in a healthy way, promoting their learning, and helping them explore the world and feel confident in who they are.” 

Through the SCIMHA mission, the Raising Relationships podcast was born!

Learning about the Raising Relationships Parenting Podcast

The Raising Relationships podcast explores the idea of preschool expulsion, something that happens far more frequently than you may think. Over 200 young children are expelled each day, a staggering number that honestly surprised me was so high.

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Researchers found that children who faced expulsion during preschool were up to 10 times more likely to drop out of high school or be incarcerated as teenagers and young adults. These numbers did not sit well with Tiffany and Amaris and became a focal point of the podcast. 

Season 1 of the Podcast

Season 1 follows guest/parent Shontee and her son Micah. Listeners get to explore their journey with parenthood and Micha’s difficulty in preschool. As the podcast moves through each episode, listeners also follow along with Shontee and Micah’s journey of personal growth. We see the connection between Micha’s caregivers and his early childhood educator’s grow.

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Much of this growth is thanks to programs like Help Me Grow SC. This free SCIMHA program offers community resources, free parenting classes, developmental screenings, and behavioral health screenings for parents and children in South Carolina.  

The second portion of each episode interviews researchers, psychologists, teachers, and experts to support the conversation. Each episode dives into a different subject and connects them back to Shontee and Micah’s story.  

Why Strong Relationships Are So Important

In our conversation with Amaris, we learned why this podcast can be such an important tool for families and educators with young children. She talks about how one of the goals of the podcast is to explore “how in these relationships we often…start talking about connection, attachment, attunement, and we simply think of the parent… there are other caregivers [in attachment] involved and they’re our educational professionals, our teachers, our directors.” 

The podcast connects with its audience by being real. It gives authentic guidance and provides research-based information and resources to everyone who works with babies and young children. As Amaris says “We really believe that relationships are the key to really healing the United States, the world.”

Organizations, Free Parenting Classes, and Resources

You can listen to the Raising Relationships podcast at scimha.org/podcast.

Learn more about the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association through the SCIMHA website. This includes programs, events, free parenting classes, resources, and more. 

If you have questions or concerns about preschool expulsion, or child development, including social-emotional development,  please visit Help Me Grow at https://helpmegrowsc.org/ or call us at (855) 476-9211.

Erin Gorges
About the Author
Erin is a Greenville, South Carolina native who loves taking her two young daughters on adventures around the Upstate. Erin enjoys gardening, hiking, and dabbling in DIY projects. Her favorite things to do with her husband and kids include sensory activities, swimming, playing with their dogs, and exploring the local state and national parks.

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