Every parent feels overwhelmed at times. When it happens, ask for
help! Relatives, friends, religious advisors, your doctor and other
professionals will understand. In addition, here are 10 tips and
some helpful resources.
Vigorously shaking a baby by the arms, legs, chest or
shoulders can cause brain damage or blindness. These injuries
are called "shaken baby syndrome." An estimated 50,000
cases occur in the U.S. each year, and one in four shaken
babies dies from this abuse.
Put healthy babies down to sleep on their backs.
Medical experts believe putting healthy babies down to sleep
on their backs may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome (SIDS). Ask your doctor about the best sleep position
for your baby. For more information, call the National
SIDS/Infant Death Resource Center at 1-866-866-7437.
Be careful who cares for your child.
Sadly, unrelated caretakers, including immature babysitters or
a parent's boyfriend or girlfriend, harm too many children.
Choose experienced, responsible caregivers who like children.
Discuss your child's needs, habits and schedule. Communicate
your rules and expectations of the caregiver. Make sure the
caretaker knows what to do in an emergency, and check in
frequently to monitor your child's well being. For more
information, contact the Office for Children Child Care Assistance and Referral
program at 703-449-8484; TTY 703-222-9452.
Don't leave children home alone until they can be
Infants and young children need full-time care and supervision
– and no child or young teen should be left alone for a long
period of time, such as overnight. Otherwise, leaving
youngsters alone for short periods is a matter of maturity and
preparation. Can your child follow rules (stay inside, no
cooking, don't open the door to strangers)? Have you
role-played what to do in case of fire, injury or other
emergency? Is there a safe place to go, such as next door, if
necessary? Does your child know how to contact you? A
rebellious teen may need more supervision than a responsible
11-year-old. Check out Fairfax County's Child Supervision
children alone in a car.
In summer, a closed car can quickly heat up to dangerous
levels. In winter, a closed car left running can lead to carbon
monoxide poisoning. Children alone in cars are also easy
targets for carjackers or kidnappers.
Know how to spot a depressed child.
In the U.S., nearly 2,000 youngsters, ages 10 - 19, committed
suicide in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Depression is often a factor. Watch for:
persistent sadness and/or irritability; low self-esteem or
feelings of worthlessness; increase or decrease in activity,
eating, or sleeping; loss of interest in favorite activities;
difficulty concentrating; anger and rage; headaches, stomach
aches, or other physical pains that seem to have no cause;
preoccupation with death or suicide. If your child or teen has
two or more of these symptoms, ask your doctor to refer you to
a mental health professional, or call Public Mental Health
Treatment Information and Referral at 703-383-8500, TTY
Learn about child development.
Learning what you can reasonably expect from children at each
growth stage makes parenting easier. " Understanding
and Guiding Children as They Grow and Develop," is one
handy guide. For other helpful information about child
development, visit your local library, bookstore or the
Internet at Zero to Three®; National Association for the
Education of Young Children; or call 1-800-CHILDREN (245-3736).
The Department of Family Services also offers parenting
Help for parents and teens during the adolescent
Adolescence can be a challenging time for both parents and
teens. Here are some 24 hour, 7 days a week resources that may
be helpful: Alternative House counseling hotline,
1-800-SAY-TEEN (729-8336); Crisis Link/Teen Hotline,
Use discipline to teach.
No one is born with good judgment or self-control. Over many
years, children develop these skills through training and
guidance from caring adults. Discipline is an important
teaching tool. It involves being consistent, setting limits and
giving age appropriate choices. For advice, seek out books
available on effective discipline of children and teens or find
Protective Services Hotline: 703-324-7400; TTY
Your call is confidential