A child who is abused or neglected is more likely to become an abusive or neglectful parent or adult later in life. To put an end to the cycle of abuse, preventative measures need to be taken so that future generations are not affected by violent or abusive behaviour.
As parents, we also need to ensure that we are bringing up strong and resilient children, because often the violence or abuse can happen close to home or outside the home. By equipping our children with necessary skills, we can help them become stronger individuals that will speak out against abuse or at the very least, notify you if something happens. Here are some tips that can help you build your children up in the face of abuse:
- Strengthen your bond: By building a strong parent-child relationship in the home, you are letting your child know that you are a safe environment for them to come to if they need help. Keep affirming the fact that you are there for them no matter what and that you will drop everything to listen to them or care for them.
- Open channels of communication: Part of this relationship must be built on open communication, where your child knows that he or she can come to you in any circumstance and you will not judge them. Often children won’t speak up because they feel ashamed or are afraid of being judged for behaviour that was beyond their control.
- Build a care community: Your child needs to know that if you aren’t present, they can rely on the help of others. Aunts or uncles, or even close family friends are an important component of creating a healthy care circle in your community. If there is a strong bond between children and the community, they have more people to turn to if they find themselves in trouble. This in turn empowers them with a feeling of safety and security in their home environment.
- Introduce assertiveness: Adulthood begins in childhood where you learn vital skills about becoming an adult. Introduce assertiveness by teaching your child to say a firm no, when they mean no, or a resounding yes, when they mean it. By teaching them to stand their ground from an early age, they will have less chance of being taken advantage of by adults with ulterior motives.
- Talk about emotions in a positive way: By showing your child that it is okay to express emotion in a healthy manner, you are allowing them to do the same. Speak to them about the way they feel in different circumstances and always remember to check in with them after something big has happened. Ask them to notice their emotions and how the event made them feel. This teaches them to recognise different emotions and acknowledge them. If they are feeling neglected or shunned, they can communicate this to you safely, knowing that you will listen.
Building stronger children helps build a stronger future for our country. Prevention of abuse, violence and neglect should be a responsibility that all parents take to heart.
If you are in any doubt as to how you can contribute more effectively to the strength and wellbeing of your child or community, please contact your Employee Wellbeing Programme. A trained consultant will be able to offer you advice, support and assistance on the route forward.