Children's charity the NSPCC is encouraging parents and carers to stay calm when looking after young children as part of their new 'Take 5' campaign.
Take 5 urges parents of children aged between one and four to stop, breathe, and react calmly when dealing with tantrums, difficult behaviour and other challenging parenting situations.
In extreme cases, where the relationship between a parent and child breaks down, children can often become victim to emotional abuse, according to the NSPCC. Statistics published in their annual report show the issue increasing as a reason for a young person to be placed on a child protection register in Wales.
The NSPCC has produced five top tips for parents faced by challenging behaviour:
• Don’t expect perfect behaviour – all children misbehave sometimes
• Praise your child – affection and praise are more likely to see behaviour repeated
• Be consistent – a child’s behaviour improves when they know what the rules are
• Look after yourself – it’s much easier to take care of your child if you take care of yourself
• Remember, you’re not alone – every parent finds it tough sometimes
Last year counsellors at the NSPCC Helpline received more than 270 reports which were serious enough to refer to police or social services – an increase of 81 per cent over four years – after they had been contacted by members of the public with concerns about the emotional abuse of a child.
The NSPCC defines emotional abuse as ‘the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child’. It can involve persistent threatening or shouting, trying to scare a child, humiliating them, constantly criticising, exposing them to distressing situations, and isolating or ignoring them.
The launch of Take 5 in Wales also follows the Welsh Government’s recent commitment to remove from law the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ in cases where adults are charged with assaulting a child.
43% of parents reported that they might smack their children in certain circumstances.
5% said they were comfortable with the idea, according to to a 2016 Welsh Government study.
The NSPCC champions positive parenting as opposed to reacting angrily or emotionally.
As well as being wonderful and rewarding, parenting can be challenging and exhausting. It’s completely natural for a parent to feel stressed, angry and frustrated at times. It’s how we react to that which makes a big difference to a child. Keeping your cool and finding ways to manage stress and frustration will not only help a child grow into a confident, happy and emotionally literate young person, it will also benefit a parent’s own mental health and wellbeing.
Former British and Irish Lions International Martyn Williams is backing the campaign.
As a father of three I know very well just how much of a challenge parenting can sometimes be, but also how important it is not to react angrily when children’s behaviour is difficult. I am sure that the support and tips available as part of the NSPCC’s campaign will be useful for parents the length and breadth of Wales.