FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 23, 2004) – Even in the most loving families with children, stresses can get high during the holidays.
With kids home from school, travel, seasonal shopping and the expenses that come with it, parents can get frazzled more easily than usual. What is usually a fun and happy time for kids can become devastating when parents cope by becoming violent with their children.
In the frenzy of the season, parents and caregivers may need a reminder to keep cool this winter when disciplining kids.
“Most parents enjoy taking care of their kids, but frustration can escalate all too quickly during times of high stress,” said Lisa Durbin of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Division of Protection and Permanency. “It’s never OK to hit a child.”
Durbin said staff at county Department for Community Based Services offices may help parents by finding resources to deal with the problems that cause stress before they escalate.
Community resources are often available to assist families who need help with services like utilities, child care or job training.
“The local offices can assist with referrals to those agencies,” Durbin said.
Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK), one of the cabinet’s community partners, is a statewide nonprofit network whose mission is to prevent the abuse and neglect of Kentucky's children through its outreach. PCAK offers a parent helpline as part of its toll-free service -- (800) CHILDREN, or (800) 244-5373.
Keeping children safe this season may also take an extra effort from nonparents.
Durbin said the No. 1 rule Kentuckians should remember is that if they even suspect child abuse or neglect, they must report it. “It’s the law,” she said.
Call your local police or the cabinet’s child abuse hot line at (800) 752-6200 to report. Callers are kept anonymous.
Children are usually better behaved when the adults in their lives are happier and more relaxed. If a neighboring parent seems overstressed, offer to listen. Sometimes just being able to express anger and frustration helps ease tension.
Make an offer to watch your neighborhood kids while their parents shop, bake or wrap gifts. A small gesture can make a big difference to busy parents.
Holidays can bring out a lot of different feelings for adults, as some family relationships might be strained or memories of years past -- good or bad -- return, Durbin said. “Take the time to talk to a friend, it can be a great outlet,” she said.
Durbin said it’s normal for anyone struggling with parenting issues to feel insecure about their abilities and that it’s OK to ask for help from a relative, neighbor or child-care experts.
Staff at your local DCBS office may be able to refer you to a nearby parenting class, Durbin said. Log onto http://cfc.state.ky.us/agencies/Comm_Base/service_regions/directory.asp to find the number for the DCBS office in your county.
PCAK offers parents information on positive parenting and volunteers opportunities to help stop child abuse. Call their toll free number or go online to http://www.pcaky.org/home.htm.
The cabinet’s home page is http://chfs.ky.gov/.
When you feel you do need to discipline your child with a timeout or punishment, keep these tips in mind from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information.
· Get some space. If you are so upset you feel like screaming -- or more -- leave the room. Say, "I'm so angry, I need a minute to think." Then leave the room or send your child to his room so you can calm down and regroup. You’ll get yourself under control, and it’s a good example for your children.
· Be quick. Catch your child in the act. Delayed reactions dilute the effect.
· Use selectively. Use timeout for talking back, hitting and safety-compromising problems. Don't overuse it.
· Keep calm. Your anger only adds fuel to the fire and changes the focus from the behavior of the child to your anger. This prevents you from being in control.
· Stick with it. Once you say, “Timeout,” don't back down or be talked out of it. If you decide to use timeout to control hitting, for example, use it every time your child hits, even if he spends most of the day in timeout. Eventually, he'll decide that it's more fun to play without hitting than to sit alone in his room.