GREENSBORO, N.C. — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. When you think of abuse, you tend to think of hitting. But emotional needs are important to protect as well.
Children's emotional needs are important because when loved, nurtured, and respected, they develop strong self-esteem and resilience and know how others should treat them. Children learn that they're valuable, that they matter. And their emotional health is protected.
To help develop children's emotional health, parents should exercise patience before responding to their kids' annoying behaviors. This means talking through situations and asking questions to understand what's happening with their kids to determine the reasons for misbehavior. Focus on the behaviors, and don't attack their character.
There is a fallacy that yelling is better than hitting a child. Both yelling and hitting can be damaging to children. When stressed, parents might lose their cool and quickly yell, put down, or call their kids names. Realize that you're chipping away at their self-esteem every time you do. Children internalize their parent's behavior, and it's hard to see that their parent lacks self-control or self-regulation. Instead, kids think that it's their fault.
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