What should I do if I see a child mistreated in public?
• Start a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child.
• “She seems to be trying your patience.”
• “My child sometimes gets upset like that, too.”
• “Children can really wear you out sometimes. Is there anything I
can do to help? ”
• Divert the child’s attention (if misbehaving) by talking to the child.
• “That’s a great baseball cap. Are you an Astro’s (whatever team logo) fan? ”
• “I like your t-shirt. Did you get that on vacation?”
• Look for an opportunity to praise the parent or child.
• “Your child has the most beautiful eyes.”
• “That’s a very pretty shirt on your little girl/boy. Where did you get it?”
• If the child is in danger, offer assistance.
• If the child is unattended in a grocery cart, stand near the child
until the parent returns.
• If the child is in immediate danger, call the police.
• Avoid negative remarks or looks.
Negative reactions are likely to increase the parent’s stress or anger
and could make matters worse for the child.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect* please call: CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE 1-800-252-5400. Visit their website at www.txabusehotline.org
*As long as your report is made in good faith, and without malice, your identity is kept confidential, and free from any liability.
What is child abuse?
Child abuse is harm to, or neglect of, a child by another child or an adult. Child abuse happens in all cultural, ethnic, and income groups. It can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or a result of neglect. Abuse may cause serious injury to the child and may even result in death.
If I take a parenting class, will I be admitting my inadequacies as a parent? Do CPS or the court system order most people to take parenting classes?
Learning effective parenting skills is one of the best ways to show your children you love them. Whether you are new parents or grandparents, or whether the class is mandatory or voluntary, everyone can learn to be a better parent! Most of our clients register for our program voluntarily, because they want to learn to develop and expand their parenting skills. Our classes are designed for the entire family to learn life changing and family strengthening skills like stress management, communication, problem solving and safety together.
My child has witnessed adults hitting and fighting with each other. Now he is beginning to do this as well. How can I help change his behavior?
Exposing a child to this behavior is a form of child abuse. If you can tell that your child is about to hit you, stop him beforehand and firmly tell him “no.” Anger is a natural emotion, and it is important to let children know that you understand their need to express it. Acknowledge their feelings and then give them words to talk about it. Most importantly, model this behavior for your children.
I have heard that spanking is a form of child abuse. Is this true?
Spanking a child destroys self-esteem and, as you have learned, when your child is big enough, he will hit back. Talking is a better way to change behavior and, in the end, more effective. A parent can always say to a child, “I love you, but I don’t approve of what you did.” In addition, yes, it is true that spanking with belts, extension cords, paddles, etc. leaves bruises and you could be charged with child abuse.
I often lose my temper with my child. How can I change?
The cycle of child abuse can only be changed by practicing and teaching new behavior. As parents, you can use your voice to change this reality and transform the future for children today and in generations to come. Use every opportunity to model composure and compassion with your children, especially in times of conflict. Here are some good suggestions:
• Stop the action—“I know you’re angry, but you may not hit her.”
• State what you see—“We only have one toy and two children. Let’s talk about sharing.”
• Listen to their explanation—Listen patiently to their issues.
• Identify the problem and acknowledge their feelings—“You’re sad that he took the toy away from you.”
• Brainstorm solutions—“What can we do about this?”
• Listen to all suggestions—“Robert wants to take turns. He wants the first turn. Is this okay?”
• Once a solution has been reached, commend the children for their choice in helping to resolve the conflict.
These strategies are effective whether you are angry with your child or your child is angry with someone else.
Source: Dr. Geeta Thakur
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