This month, in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we’re talking about the importance of positive child rearing and the amazing effects it has on our children. Jo works hard to help parents raise children with love and kindness, while also putting into place rules and boundaries so that children have positive experiences. Preventing child abuse is all about positive parenting. In order to prevent abuse, it’s important for parents to recognize what triggers their own stress.
Parenting can be a very rewarding job, but it can also be quite challenging. You can get tired, impatient, and feel at the end of your tether. One such consequence of these stresses is that it can cause some people to take out their frustration on their child, even though the child is not the cause of their frustration.
How can you recognize stress? 1) When you feel as if you are close to your limit. 2) When your anger begins to bubble up and starts seeping outside of yourself. 3) When worry takes over completely. These are just three of many signs. But if you are aware of these feelings and start to recognize them as they come up, you can then being to manage them.
How to manage stress. First and foremost, if you’re feeling alone and overwhelmed, talk to someone. Find your partner, a family member, relative, friend, doctor, priest/pastor/rabbi or a therapist and tell them how you are feeling. Simply talking out the stress can be half the battle. Secondly, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. As both a parent and a human being you can only handle so much in the day, so pick your priorities. Exercise can also be a big factor in relieving stress. It gets our blood moving and increases our endorphins, which help you to feel good. For more tips on managing stress, check out the NSPCC’s (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) “Keeping Your Cool” pamphlet. And, our very own Todd Morena also has some tips on managing stress through deep breathing.
If stress isn’t managed, it can result in everything from tension to physical violence and emotional trauma. Children pick up on everything, from the personal tension you think you might be hiding from them, to the arguments you may have in front of them. Children can become worried and anxious when tension builds up in the household. As a result, they can sometimes choose to trigger a situation to relieve the tension, as they may feel it’s better to live knowing when that “bubble will burst” instead of living with the uncertainty.
But children can become very upset when witnessing a parent become very angry or lose emotional control. They can often think they are to blame for this outburst and that mindset can damage their own emotional and mental development.
Beyond the emotional abuse children can suffer, if the situation gets extreme and that feeling of “fight or flight” takes over, it can turn physical, with children getting caught in the crossfire or being the recipient of the abuse. You must not let this happen. If you feel yourself get close to this point, leave the room, call a relative, babysitter, or neighbor to come and watch the children while you step out and take a moment to sort yourself out. Violence is never an option and, as a parent, you must learn to recognize and manage your stress. Positive parenting plus stress management equals a healthy child.
Jo works hard to teach parents how to communicate and work as a familial unit to create a loving, respectful, and safe environment in which children can learn and grow. In addition to safety from physical abuse, she also advocates for children’s safety from sexual abuse. As a parent, it is important to arm your child with as many tools as you can to keep them safe.
Every parent would like to be their child’s eyes and ears, knowing what’s going on with them at all times, but since that’s not possible, you must teach them to look out for people and situations that make them uncomfortable. The NSPCC has a set of steps called “The Underwear Rule,” which helps teach children about abuse without using scary words or mentioning sex.
Copywritten by Jo Frost