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Blue Ribbon Parenting 

Respectful Parents Can Help Children Develop Self-Control

What should the parent have done instead? "Use language to solve problems," says Gricus, "Help children learn to use words, rather than actions to express feelings. Let them know you understand how they are feeling." For example, you might say, "I know you feel upset when your brother takes your things without asking, but we don't hit."

Children learn from what they see. Parents need to model the behavior they wish to see in their children. Parents must become good disciplinarians, (remembering that discipline means "to teach and train"). They must acquire the skills that will accomplish their goal of helping children learn to control and set behavior standards for themselves, according to Katherine Kersey, author of "The Art of Sensitive Parenting," and chairperson of the department of child studies and special education at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. "Using force, fear or punishment," says Dr. Kersey, "makes children angry, resentful and dependent upon force."

What is her recommendation? "Treat your child with respect. Treat your child as if she is as important a human being as you are," says Kersey in "Don't Take It Out On Your Kids: A Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Positive Discipline." "Use discipline techniques that teach children self-control and responsibility." Some examples: Model appropriate behavior. Follow through with what you say. Be consistent. Be firm, yet kind and fair. Reward positive behavior. Redirect misbehavior. Provide consequences for misbehavior immediately after the undesirable act is performed. According to Kersey, using proven ways to reinforce good behavior and minimize misbehavior can help to break the vicious cycle of child abuse and neglect.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Virginia Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention (c/o Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, 1-800-CHILDREN) is reaching out to as many Virginian parents as possible with its Blue Ribbon Parenting Campaign. Hundreds of thousands of blue ribbons have been distributed by organizations that are interested in supporting families and preventing child abuse and neglect. The blue ribbon is a positive symbol of the need to do one's best when it comes to children.

How does one achieve Blue Ribbon Parenting? 1) Show your children that you love and respect them; provide them a sense of security, belonging and support; "catch them being good" and give them lots of praise. Tell them you love them. 2) Really listen: Give your children your undivided attention when they are trying to communicate with you. Try to understand their point of view. 3) Spend time with your children: Find special time for each of your children. Play with them, read to them, and create family events in which everyone participates. Discuss their schoolwork; participate in school activities. 4) Always treat your children with respect. FS



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