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Prevent Child Abuse

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Be mindful. Discipline with your heart, not with your hands.

Recent research has provided some important insights into effective discipline, which have recently been published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, the perfect occasion for me to release the American Academy of Pediatrics consensus opinion on discipline published in December of 2018. By no means is raising children, especially when it comes to discipline, an easy matter or a simple task – as parents effective discipline challenges each and everyone one of us.

Recent research has provided some important insights into effective discipline, which have recently been published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the form of a consensus opinion paper. Here’s what they wrote, “All forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children are minimally effective in the short term and not effective in the long term. With new evidence researchers link corporal punishment to increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, psycho-social and emotional outcomes for children.”

It’s for certain that sticks and stones will break bones, but names also hurt us. In fact, research shows that emotional abuse is longer-lasting and more damaging than corporal punishment!

Okay. It’s easy for me to declare you need to become an expert overnight. No one can do. And that and that’s not the expectation here, but there are some “rules” that may make your approach more effective.

First, understand that misbehavior is about attention-getting. Call it a cry for, “Mommy pay attention to me!” What better way to get your attention than misbehaving. Getting attention, even if it’s punishment, is far more important to than no attention what-so-ever.

So what are the rules?

First, provide a consistent environment and daily schedule. Up the same time most days, same time to go to bed – same time to brush teeth; when and how to get dressed. Time for school. Time for play. Time for leisure; time for “work.” Make it consistent.

Provide choices. Everybody likes choices. Freedom to choose is empowering. Freedom to choose builds confidence. As adults we ask, “Do I want a red car or a black one?” “Do I want a cheeseburger or rib-eye steak?”

Children are no different. So give them choices. When they ask, “Can I have some candy?” You can say, “I don’t have any candy right now. it’s not candy time, but I do have some fresh apples and some bananas, would you like that?”

Next, model empathy. Empathy generates self-worth. When someone genuinely says, “I’m sorry. Something like that happened to me once. It was awful,” shows that you care. Modeling empathy demonstrates the importance of feelings

Don’t be afraid to apologize. Exhibiting willingness to apologize  when you hurt your child’s feelings is essential to building lasting relationships.

Always give praise.  Everybody likes to be told he did a good job. The performance may not meet your specifications, but if they have done their best, praise them for it. Giving praise boosts ego, sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Show appreciation for a job well done.

Follow through – always follow through on your promises. If your child comes to you in the middle of changing his sister’s diaper and asks, “Mommy, read this book to me. Read this book to me!” Respond with, “I’m changing your sister’s diaper and as soon as I’m done, I’ll read to you.” Then make certain you sit done and read. Following through on promises sends trust worthy messages. Being good to you word is one of the most important qualities children must learn.

Avoid threats for goodness sake – especially those you can’t carry out. Don’t tell you child, “If you don’t get ready to go, I’m going to leave you home alone.” You know you can’t do that, and they know you can’t do that, so idle threats become meaningless and undermines parental credibility.

Give all the hugs and love and kisses and words of kindness you can. In my next segment, I’m talking about Happy Buckets. Warmth and love and kindness fill everyone’s Happy Bucket.

Bottom line. Be mindful. Discipline with your heart, not with your hands.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Power your path to happiness!

References:

Sege, R., et al, 2018. Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children. Pediatrics, December 2018, vol. 142, issue 6. Online [available at]: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/6/e20183112 Accessed April 6, 2019.