From Dr. Beth Vo at the Western Carolina Medical Society:
Parents: Stay Positive!
As a pediatrician and parent, I dream of a world without child abuse. In such a world, every child would be safe, supported and loved by all those around them. We can all work together to bring about such a world. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we can all play an important role in this work.
Preventing child abuse requires that we all recognize and support the hard work of parenting. A few years ago, my family was eating lunch at a casual restaurant. My children were then 0, 2 and 4 years old and therefore, there was some noise at our table. A man came over and sternly said, “Have you ever heard of discipline?” Since that time, I have considered what he meant by that. Certainly it did not come across to me as a supportive question. While I believe that kind, consistent, structured discipline is necessary for a child’s development, it seemed to me that he was speaking of the type of “discipline” that physically and verbally intimidates a child and initially may curtail an undesired behavior but will eventually be ineffective. That was not the type of “discipline” that I wanted for my children. I still often wonder what he could have said that would have supported me in this common situation, instead of leaving me feeling embarrassed and frustrated.
No parent wants their baby to scream in the middle of a restaurant or their toddler to melt down in the grocery store, but these things happen, and they are actually normal for children of those ages. What we say, do, or don’t do, can make a long-term difference in supporting that child and that parent. A kind word, a smile, or offering a hand of assistance may be all it takes to have a positive effect on that parent at that moment. When I see a family in my office that is struggling, I can always find and point out some strength, something they are doing right- and parents need to hear that. Parenthood is hard! We all need help!
And there is valuable help available for all families, no matter how small or large the issue. Triple P–Positive Parenting Program is now available across Buncombe County. Over 70 professionals across 25 private, public and nonprofit agencies in the county have been trained to provide Triple P to parents and caregivers. Triple P has been shown to promote the well-being of children and families, to prevent undesirable child behaviors and, ultimately, to prevent child maltreatment. Triple P offers many different levels of support, which can help with everything from toilet-training to serious behavior concerns. It offers parents simple, proven strategies but leaves them in control of deciding which strategies are best for their own situation and needs. I strongly recommend this program, as my involvement in Triple P has helped me as a parent to… Stay Positive!
For more information on Triple P in Buncombe County, visit triplep-parenting.net. The public is invited to attend the upcoming seminars titled, “The Power of Positive Parenting.” Tuesday, April 8, at Estes Elementary School at 6 p.m., and Friday, April 11, at Asheville City Schools Preschool at 9 a.m.
Dr. Beth Vo is a board-certified pediatrician at ABC Pediatrics of Asheville who has a special interest in childhood injury prevention and public health. She is a member of the Western Carolina Medical Society, the North Carolina Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics.