Having a baby changes everything. And while most moms and dads report that parenthood is the most gratifying job in the world, it’s also the most challenging.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety is sharing tips to help parents stay calm with their children — even when their stress levels hit the ceiling.
When it comes to parenting a baby, the physical and emotional demands are off the charts. Parents must learn to balance their regular household and work responsibilities with middle-of-the-night feedings, colic, endless piles of laundry and extra expenses. The learning curve is steep — and the stress and frustration can be difficult to bear.
Unfortunately, this stress can take a real toll. When exhausted and frustrated parents are holding a crying baby, they run the risk of becoming too rough in trying to calm them down. This can cause Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a completely avoidable, yet highly prevalent, condition that affects as many as 3,000 children in the United States each year.
Importantly, many parents who shake their babies don’t fit the stereotype for child abuse. They don’t have a history of violence and never intended to hurt their children. In these cases, SBS is a result of uncontrolled stress, which compromises parents’ abilities to think clearly and remain calm.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, “Babies, newborn to 1 year, are at greatest risk of injury from shaking. Shaking them with force can trigger a ‘whiplash’ effect that can lead to internal injuries — including bleeding in the brain or in the eyes. Often there are no obvious external physical signs, such as bruising or bleeding, to indicate an injury.”
Sadly, 80% of infants who experience SBS suffer permanent damage, and as many as 25% do not survive.
By and large, parents only want the best for their children — and that includes staying calm and giving their children their best, even amid significant stress.
What can you do when you feel your temperature rising? Here are three tips:
10-minute talk: Pick up the phone and call someone who will help you calm down. In fact, keep a list of three or more people you can call when your stress levels are climbing. Often, a 10-minute conversation with a calm and loving friend or family member can make all the difference for you – and your baby.
10-foot rule: When you need a break, put your baby in a safe place and give yourself some distance. Ten feet is far enough to allow you to calm down, yet close enough to keeping your baby in your line of sight. Use this time to focus on your breathing, think calm thoughts or use other meditative techniques that will allow you to lower your stress level and restore peace and control.
10-minute break: If you need time alone, put your baby on their back in an empty crib, then close the door and check on them in 10 minutes. Take a brief pause and focus on something else knowing your baby is in a safe place. Just be sure there are no loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib.
Stress is part of parenthood — and so are feelings of exhaustion, burnout and even desperation. Use these simple tips to stay cool and calm and to keep your little one safe.
SOURCE: glendalestar.com, Tené Marion