Thoughtful Parenting: Help prevent child abuse


Routt County resources

■ Routt County Department of Human Services: 970-879-1540

■ Steamboat Mental Health: 970-879-1241

■ Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association: 970-879-1632 (Includes the Nurse Family Partnership program, which helps first-time parents with parent-baby relationships and provides moms with a nurse through pregnancy and until the baby is 2.)

■ Newborn Network: 970-879-0977 (Includes a networking and support group for parents and grandparents as well as the Parents as Teachers program, which serves families of children as old as 5 with resources and information to reduce parent stress.)

■ First Impressions of Routt County: www.firstimpressi... (Includes birth to age 5 resource list to be posted soon.)

It’s lunchtime in the family kitchen: A parent offers a spoonful of pureed squash to the baby who is sitting in a high chair, and the baby begins to arch his back, throw his head back and cry. His arms and legs are moving vigorously, and the bowl bounces off the tray to the floor, splattering squash everywhere. How does the parent feel at this moment?

Looking at the mess could bring a feeling of exhaustion, but a parent who isn’t receiving support or encouragement could start to have a variety of concerns, such as, “I’m worried the baby won’t grow if he doesn’t eat” or “The baby is angry with me, has a demanding temperament, will never like vegetables and did this on purpose.”

However, the baby is more likely thinking, “I’m uncomfortable somewhere in my body, but I don’t know where,” “I don’t feel hungry,” “I need a break” or “I don’t know how to calm myself down.”

It can be hard for an overwhelmed parent who doesn’t have information about baby development to read a baby’s cues.

The burdens, conflicts and worries of life can bring a high level of stress to a parent and spill over into family life, even affecting a baby.

As part of Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, consider the following family protective factors from Colorado’s violence and injury prevention network and share this information with other adults to keep children safe from abuse.

■ Be a bounce-back family. Challenging times impact every family. Recognize stressful situations and ask for help to keep a sense of hope.

■ Make parent growth a priority. As your child grows, take time to learn what is age appropriate and how to set realistic expectations. This helps parents cope positively with various situations.

■ Learn more about child growth and development. As children grow and develop, helping them identify their feelings, communicate clearly and problem solve prepares them for positive social interactions.

■ Surround yourself with a network. Having a support system in the community gives us needed breaks and helps us cope with difficult times.

■ Call a professional. Getting to know a child care provider, social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse or faith-based helper can give parents someone to turn to in times of need.

■ Never shake a baby. Put the baby in a safe place, walk away and get help.

Beth Watson is a public health nurse with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. The VNA has been a member of the Routt County Early Childhood Council since its inception in 1997.


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