Cumberland Times-News

December 20, 2013

Don’t take holiday stress out on the children

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— It’s the truth we don’t like to admit: sometimes the most magical time of the year, well, it just isn’t magical for all families. As any parent or child caretaker will tell you, the demands of the holiday season — coupled with the school system’s winter break — can be overwhelming.

It’s during these times, when fuses shorten and tempers flare, that some children may find themselves at a greater risk for harm.

We know it’s not easy to manage the stress of holidays: the shopping, tightened finances, family events, work commitments, the weather, and the like. But when it comes to disciplining children during incredibly stressful times, staying calm is key.

The National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse recommends the following alternatives to lashing out at your child:

• Take a deep breath. And another. Then remember you are the adult.

• Close your eyes and imagine you’re hearing what your child is about to hear.

• Press your lips together and count to 10. Or better yet, to 20.

• Put your child in a time-out chair. (Remember the rule: one time-out minute for each year of age.)

• Put yourself in a time-out chair. Think about why you are angry: is it your child or is your child simply a convenient target for your anger?

• Call a friend.

• If someone can watch the children, go outside and take a walk.

• Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face.

• Hug a pillow.

• Turn on some music. Maybe even sing along.

• Pick up a pencil and write down as many helpful words as you can think of. Save the list.

• Lead by example as your child will model your behavior.

As a parent or caretaker, your actions matter. For more parenting resources and information about child abuse prevention, please contact the Child Abuse Task Force at 301-777-5903 or Jane’s Place Child Advocacy Center at 301-722-0016. To report suspected child abuse, please contact Allegany County’s Department of Social Services at 301-784-7122 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or call 911 during non-business hours.

Kristin Lemmert

program coordinator

Jane’s Place Inc.

Child Advocacy Center