Stop the abuse: Positive parenting skills help guide children’s growth

By Roberta Hibbard
For the Daily Journal

As we approach the month of April, there is a cause close to my heart that I’d like to bring more attention to — Child Abuse Prevention Month. Some of you may have seen the most recent data from the Indiana Youth Institute’s study on youth related statistics.

Last year there were more than 200,000 reported incidents of child abuse or neglect in Indiana, and 25,000 of those cases were substantiated. And those are only the cases we know about.

Caring for kids is a rewarding, but challenging and demanding experience. Parenting is undoubtedly one of the most important tasks we face. There may be nothing better than the love you feel for your children and the feelings you have as you watch them grow and mature into healthy young adults. Still, a parenting textbook is not part of our DNA and each child is unique.

Caring for kids is everyone’s responsibility, but guidance is available. Riley Hospital is prepared to partner with you in the best interest of your child.

Thanks to a grant from Kohl’s, our dedicated team of medical specialists and Riley Children’s Foundation, we support the Kohl’s Caring for Our Kids campaign. This effort is aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect, and promoting positive parenting skills.

What we seek to offer through this program is a pool of resources to help you keep your children and other children who you know and love safe and nurtured.

Prevention of child abuse starts at home with your own children. Lack of knowledge and inadequate parenting skills are cited by experts as the top contributing factors to child abuse and neglect. There is no such thing as the “perfect parent” or “perfect child,” but there are healthy positive parenting skills to help guide your child’s growth.

Here are five parenting tips to remember:

  1. Take care of yourself. If you are tired, ill or just worn out, you cannot be an effective parent. Eat healthfully and get enough sleep.
  • Give attention to the behavior you like — not the behavior you don’t. Children act up to gain your attention. Sometimes it pays to ignore those actions. Your child will quickly learn there is a better way to communicate.
  • Focus on controlling yourself — not your child. Keep cool. In the case of an extreme behavioral flare-up from your child, count to 10, take a deep breath or simply walk away until you’ve had time to collect yourself.
  • Redirect, redirect, redirect. Kids who hear “No” or “Don’t” all the time tend to tune those directives out. So instead of telling your child what not to do, instead offer a positive behavior to replace the misbehavior.
  • Educate. Talk to your child about child abuse and safety. Know where your child is going and who he/she will be with. Pay attention to their behaviors.

Throughout Indiana families eagerly share stories about how Riley Hospital has provided care for their children. Their stories of courage and determination provide our inspiration to work together to support the mission and work at Riley Hospital.

We hope this latest initiative dedicated to caring for our children will serve as a helping hand for important families in your life.

Serving awareness to these efforts is paramount. Together, we can reduce the number of children who suffer due to abuse, neglect or accidental injury.

Visit KohlsCaringForOurKids.org to learn about multiple organizations providing support for children and families.

Dr. Roberta Hibbard is a professor of pediatrics and director in the Section of Child Protection Programs at Riley Hospital for Children. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.