April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. We join with individuals, families and the community in working to reduce child abuse and neglect.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is for the child to know they are loved, valued and special. Through our interactions and words, we communicate to children how we feel about them. If we deliver positive, loving and affirming messages, children grow up to be self-confident and capable, knowing they have people who love them and believe in them.

Children who hear messages that are negative, harsh, mean spiriting and unkind, often grow up feeling they are unlovable and unworthy and may make poor choices in life. Using positive reinforcement will help us raise children who are self-disciplined.

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There are simple ways that parents can give children the best starts.

— Be a nurturing parent. Children need to know that they are unique, loved and capable of following their dreams.

— Help yourself. When the big and little problems of everyday life pile up to a point you feel overwhelmed, take a time out for yourself.

— If your baby cries…and you have a hard time comforting your baby, seek support or help. Talk with your health care provider or community agencies about what to do to help your baby. Never shake a baby – shaking a baby or a child may result in severe injury or death.

— Get involved. Ask your community, leaders, clergy, library, and schools to develop services to the meet the needs of healthy children and families.

— Monitor your child’s television, video and internet usage. Watching violent programs and video, playing graphic games can harm children.

— Remember the purpose of discipline. It is to teach your child socially acceptable ways of expressing natural desires. Discipline guides your child into adulthood.

— The best discipline is geared to the child’s developmental age and stage. Don’t expect a child of any age to perform something he or she is not ready for. If you are sure about normal milestones and age-appropriate behavior, seek support from your healthcare provider, school or other community agency.

— Children need positive reinforcement. Reward your child for doing right with smiles, hugs, attention, praise and thanks. The reward does not need to be candy or toys.

— Never hit or shake a child. Hitting is not a useful tool for children. Hitting a child teaches a child that it is OK to hit people or it can make them too angry to be regretful for what they did wrong. Hitting and shaking a child can hurt a child physically, causing not only emotional hurt and fear but physical pain.

— Discipline is taught best by example. The lessons you teach your child come from what your child sees you do, not what you say.

— If what you are doing is not working, change it. Your best efforts, even those that worked in the past, may break down. Sometimes parents need to be creative in their approach to helping a child learn to manage their behaviors.

If you as a parent feel overwhelmed, try these alternatives to lashing out at your child.

— Take a deep breath and maybe another. Then remember you are the adult.

— Close your eye and imagine you are hearing what child is about to hear. Think about how that might make you feel.

— Press your lips together and count to 10…or better yet, to 20.

— Put your child in time out, one minute for each year of age.

— Put yourself in time out. Think about why you are angry and how you might handle it in a way that feels positive, not harmful, to both you and your child.

— Phone a friend, go for a walk, take a hot bath, hug a pillow or listen to music.

— Call for prevention information: 1-800-CHILDREN.

If you or someone you know has reason to believe a child has been harmed or may be harmed, call your local police department, or you can call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-877-KYSAFE1 or 1-877-597-2331. It is all of our obligations to protect children.

Information from Prevent Child Abuse America.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Cooper Clayton, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.