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Parenting can be hard...Our resources can help

"No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but a parent’s capacity for resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress. Resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary."

                                                                                   --Center for the Study of Social Policy, Strengthening Families, Protective Factors Framework

Father and Child

Tips for Self-Care and Positive Parenting

Taking care of yourself and planning ahead can help prevent stressful situations

  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally, take time to exercise, read, nap, or work on a special project to recharge your batteries.

  • Use words that help, not words that hurt. You are a mirror for your children. They believe what you say about them.

  • Give your child time to discover the world. To a young child, everyday brings new experiences.

  • Plan ahead and leave plenty of time to get ready if you have to take your child somewhere. Young children are small and curious. They can't move as quickly as adults, and, unlike adults, they aren't in a hurry to get everywhere.

  • Respect children and use a courteous tone of voice. Giving respect gets you respect in return. A pleasant tone of voice can pay off with better communication and an improved relationship.

  • Children are never too old to be told they are loved. Say it or write it in a note that your child can keep.

  • Give your child chores around the house. It builds cooperation and responsibility.

  • Rules help children feel secure. Without limits children don't know where they stand or what they are supposed to do.

  • Help children feel good about their successes with "you" messages. In addition to "I am proud of you," try "You really worked hard on that, I bet that makes you feel proud."

Getting Children to Listen

What can you do when your children don't listen to you? Some things do not work: giving orders, criticizing, putting them down, and begging. These make children stubborn, defiant, or hurt. Instead try these ideas;

  • First, go to your child and look them in the eye. Talking from across the room, or from another room, seldom works. Your child is more likely to listen when you are close by.

  • Tell your child what to do, instead of what not to do. Change don't to do. Try "walk" instead of "don't run." Try "Keep your paint on these papers" rather than "Don't paint on the table."

  • Be clear and specific. Try "Put your toys in this basket" instead of "Be a good boy and clean up." Try "Put on your coat and bring your backpack" instead of "Get ready to go."

  • Give your child information. Describe the situation or problem. Information helps children figure out what to do and how to behave. For example: "I'm making a phone call and need quiet" or "Ants come in when there are crumbs on the floor."

  • Use fewer words. Children tune adults out when they talk on and on. Instead of a lecture use a word or a phrase to remind them how to behave. For example: "Walk"; "Books and jacket"; or "Homework before TV."

  • Don't back yourself and your child into a corner. Try "when..." instead of "if..." Try "When you finish lunch, you can go outside" instead of "If you don't finish lunch, you can't go outside."

  • Give your child chores around the house. It builds cooperation and responsibility.

Remember: The louder you yell, the less effective you are. Screaming and yelling lets your child know that you are out of control.

Mom's Hug
Young Family

Instead of Punishment

All children misbehave at times. It's a natural part of growing up. Why isn't punishing them a good idea? When children are punished, they become hurt, angry, and defiant. They forget the wrong they did. They remember the "wrong" done to them. Children need to learn what to do instead of misbehaving. Discipline teaches them. Your job as a parent is to help them learn. Try the following discipline ideas:

  • Clearly, calmly, and firmly tell your children what to do. Tell them what you expect. Show them or describe to them how to take care of the problem. For example: "I can't work when my tools are over. Please hang them on the rack and put the nails in the can" or "Play in the back of the house instead of near the road."

  • If they argue, don't argue back. simply use the broken record method: Repeat your calm and firm statement.

  • Express disapproval if necessary, but be careful not to attack with your words. Tell them how you feel about their behavior (not them as a person) and why you feel that way. For example: "I'm nervous about what is happening here. You could get hurt very badly."

  • Give a choice, but only a choice you can live with. For example: "You may walk beside me or ride in the cart. You decide" or "Dinner is at 5:30. Be home by then if you want to eat."

  • Take action. Follow through when you have given a choice or told your children what to expect. For example: "Since you are not staying beside me, you will have to ride in the cart" or "You are still arguing over the toy, so I will put it away until after dinner."

Remember that you are the adult. It is your job to teach your children how to regulate their emotions by  staying cool, firm, and clear.


Alternatives to Lashing Out at Your Child

When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point where you feel like lashing out, it's important to take a step back and calm down. Stress can increase the likelihood of abuse occurring. So consider some of these alternatives to help you decrease stress and prevent you from lashing out at your child.

  • Take five deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.

  • Count to 10. Better yet, count to 20. Or count backwards from 100. This distracts your brain and the stressful thoughts that are filling it up.

  • Phone a friend or relative and vent to them.

  • Make sure your child is safe (for example, but your baby in their crib) and go to a separate room for a break.

  • Grab a piece of paper and write down your thoughts.

  • Do some physical activity to burn off steam. Try jumping jacks, sit ups, or running up and down the stairs.

  • Take a hot bath or a cold shower.

  • Lie down on the floor or put your feet up.

  • Listen to your favorite music.

  • Dial 988. This is a crisis hotline for anyone suicidal or in emotional distress. You can also text 741741.

  • For local parenting resources, call the Parent Helpline at 1-800-CHILDREN. This is not the child abuse reporting hotline. This is a number to call if you are in need of local support services, such as counseling, WIC, home visiting, legal aid referrals, etc.

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