Nurture your child. Listen and be involved in his or her life to develop trust and good communication. Encourage your child to tell you if there’s a problem. A supportive family environment and social networks can foster your child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Establish a routine. Children feel secure and thrive when the environment is structured for them.
Praise your child when they do something right. The more you praise a behavior, the more likely it is your child will behave the same way again.
Pay attention to your child when they are trying to communicate with you. Giving them your full attention will make them feel like you care about what they have to say.
Set aside time each day to talk and play with your child. Creating a special time lets your child know they are important and strengthens the bond between the two of you.
Learn what to do if your baby won’t stop crying. Never shake a baby—shaking a child may result in severe injury or death.
Know your child’s caregivers. Check references for babysitters and other caregivers. Make irregular, but frequent, unannounced visits to observe what’s happening. Don’t allow substitutes for your usual child care provider if you don’t know the substitute.
Monitor your child’s television, video, and internet viewing/usage. Excessively watching violent films, TV programs, and videos can harm young children.
Teach your child how to stay safe online. Put the computer in a common area of your home, not the child’s bedroom. Use parental controls to restrict the types of websites your child can visit, and check your child’s privacy settings on social networking sites. Consider it a red flag if your child is secretive about online activities. Cover ground rules, such as not sharing personal information; not responding to inappropriate, hurtful or frightening messages; and not arranging to meet an online contact in person without your permission. Tell your child to let you know if an unknown person makes contact through a social networking site. Report online harassment or inappropriate senders to local authorities.
Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control.
Develop a network of supportive family and friends. If a friend or neighbor seems to be struggling, offer to babysit or help in another way. Help vulnerable children and their families. Start a playgroup.
Teach children their rights. Make sure your child understands that he or she doesn’t have to do anything that seems scary or uncomfortable. Encourage your child to leave a threatening or frightening situation immediately and seek help from a trusted adult.
Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.
Help yourself. When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point you feel overwhelmed and out of control—take time out. Don’t take it out on your kid.
Report suspected abuse or neglect. If you have reason to believe a child has been or may be harmed, call your local department of children and family services or your local police department