April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Make meaningful connections with children and families.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so let’s talk about this important topic that is often avoided. Nobody wants to be seen as a bad parent. Often parents who are having family problems don’t reach out for help because they are afraid of harsh judgment. Even the best parents have a bad day now and then. It’s how they handle that bad day that sets them apart.
Why does child abuse happen?
Some families experience incredible amounts of stress for various reasons. It may be easy to take that stress out on children, who require large amounts of energy and patience. Stress factors can include a death in the family, divorce, fatigue, job loss and financial burdens, as well as “positive” stressors such as moving, a promotion at work, a new baby, etc.
Neglect is also a form of child abuse and occurs when a parent is too busy, checked out or even mentally ill, preventing the parent from taking care of a child’s basic needs, such as hygiene (baths, showers and brushing teeth), completion of homework, and feeding proper meals.
What can you do to prevent abuse in your family?
Connect with your kids on a regular basis. Tell them you love them several times a day and pair those words with eye contact and a hug. If you have teens who don’t want to be hugged, just a touch on the arm shows you are trying to connect in some way. Stop what you are doing to really be present with your child.
Don’t try to be a super parent. There is no need to compete with other parents. Putting pressure on yourself affects the entire family negatively.
Take care of yourself and take a time out, if necessary. Know your boiling point. Ask a friend or family member to take the kids while you go for a walk, listen to a podcast or just have some peace and quiet.
Establish a routine. Predictability is a good thing if you have kids who melt down when change happens.
Get help. If you feel like you are in over your head—or problems are beyond your control—do not hesitate to ask for help.
How can you get help?
There are many ways to reach out for help. Sometimes it’s as simple as talking to a trusted friend, family member, pastor or priest who will be understanding and offer help and advice. Find a therapist or confidential support group to help with anger management or stressful issues. It will help to talk, listen and find support. Medication may even be necessary to even out your emotions.
Kerrie McLoughlin is a homeschooling mom of five, writer and blogger.
Child Abuse Hotline - Toll Free
Child Abuse Hotline - Child Welfare Services
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