April is nationally recognized as Prevent Child Abuse month. Many of you will see displays, signs, events, etc. that will hopefully bring attention to the problem of child abuse in our country, which statistics show has decreased very little in the last few years. With Iowa being in the top three states where both parents are in the workforce, we need to be even more aware of our relationships with our children, due to the amount of stress that working outside the home can put on a family.
I too was a mom working outside the home so I understand how difficult it can be to "get it all done" and have quality time with your kids. I would get home and felt I had to get dinner going the moment I stepped in the door, even though my son was clinging to my legs wanting some special "mom time." I so wish now I would have taken 10 minutes to sit down and just hold him and tell him how much I missed him, times now that I can never get back.
I feel my kids turned out great, but I still feel I should have taken those special few minutes when I had the chance. So when searching for information regarding child abuse and neglect, I came across these tips that a preschooler might say to their mom and dad; I think it may help us grown-ups better understand our little ones:
- Please don't walk so fast when we go places together. My legs are short and I can't keep up with your legs. Besides there are many things I need to see and investigate along the way.
- My attention span is short. Lots of things last too long - like shopping, visiting and sometimes games you play with me. So please don't get angry when I get restless.
- When I am frightened of a big dog or something, please pick me up and hold me - that helps more than telling me you won't let anything hurt me!
- Sometimes it would be nice if you would explain what is going to happen ahead of time, especially if it is something new. Then I'll know what to do and what to expect.
- Sometimes you might even have just a conversation with me about anything: it would make me feel that I belonged in this family, too.
- Sometimes BIG PEOPLE are in such a hurry they tell me about six things at the same time. I get confused when people say things like: "This afternoon we're going to grandmother's, get your coat, finish your lunch, choose what toy you want to take and what shoes do you have on?"
- Please make sure you know whether or not I understand what you want me to do before you get mad at me for not doing it.
- Please give me time to do things for myself. I know I'm slow. I haven't learned how to put on my clothes yet, much less do it fast. What's all the hurry about, anyway?
- I have trouble sitting still especially in the car. It's not very interesting to look at the back seat or that dash board thing. I'm too little to see what's outside and "sit-down" like you want me to.
- Sometimes my neck hurts trying to see what's on the dining room table - or looking up at big people's faces. Please put me on a chair - or bend down to me.
- I know I may not always say the right thing. Please remember I'm still a person. When you tell secrets or private things to other big people, how should I know not to repeat them?
- I know I lose arguments but it is fun sometimes to get you riled up and I know I can sharpen my wits that way. But why let yourself get angry? You know better!
- I may be small and don't know about lots of things yet, but I'm not stupid! Please don't treat me as if I can't understand anything that is going on.
Do these ring a bell for any of you? We so often forget to think about how things might seem from a young child's perspective and try to understand how they may be feeling. I think if we remember these simple suggestions, we will all feel better about our relationships with our little ones, and remember, take those few minutes to show your child how special they really are, you may never get these special moments back.
"Advice Tips" courtesy of Prevent Child Abuse New York.
Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Support Specialist for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.iowarivervalleyeca.org .