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FAP helps parents deal with stress

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- It's 3 a.m. and your baby's crying, even though she's been fed and changed. You've tried rocking, you've tried singing, you've tried everything. Now what do you do? 

As the nation observes Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout April, people will be reminded that raising a child can be stressful, but it is no excuse for violence. Where does one turn, then, when things get tough? 

The Family Advocacy Program here is a source of information with tips for parents and parents-to-be. 

"The biggest cause of abuse is the lack of healthy coping skills, believing the child is a difficult child, feeling the child is to blame, or having low self-esteem and feeling insecure as a parent," said Ms. Margarita Olimpio, Family Advocacy Outreach manager. "FAP has programs to alleviate these feelings." 

These programs include a six-week parenting class, the New Parent Support Program, and marriage and family counseling. A variety of topics are covered in the parenting class, such as discipline techniques, dealing with frustration, self-esteem enhancement and nutrition. 

"Parents can benefit from being educated from learning about stages of child development," said Julie Ramsey, a social worker with the FAP here. "Children ages 1 1/2 -3 are usually the developmental stage that parents will find most stressful." 

Children in this stage are usually inclined to explore, Ms. Ramsey said, and are not cognitively advanced enough to know to stop when a parent tells them just one time. 

"That's where the 'broken record' concept comes from," she said. 

The New Parent Support Program offers information and resources to new parents. The program refers parents to such groups as New Moms, New Dads and single parent groups. 

For those who may not be new parents, but find themselves unable to handle the stress of dealing with their children, the FAP is partnered with the Airman and Family Readiness flight to offer anger and stress management courses. The next four-week class begins May 5 and is held each Monday from 2-4:30 p.m. 

"Stress management begins with awareness when frustration building," said Linda Crowder, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant. "Parents can help themselves in various ways." 

In order to better deal with stress, Ms. Crowder said, parents should get plenty of sleep and healthy food; read magazines and books containing parenting tips; make time to do fun activities by themselves; and just talk to someone. If the parent finds healthy ways to deal with stress, they are teaching their children to do the same. 

"Parents are teaching children by their deeds on a daily basis," Ms. Crowder said. "Children learn how to parent, how to be a husband or wife, and how to manage their moods by the examples they see from their parents and the world around them." 

So, again, it's the wee hours of the morning, your child is crying and you've tried everything ... what example will you set? 

For more information on the Family Advocacy Program, call (805) 606-6217 or DSN 276-6217. For more information on the Anger/Stress Management Class, call Linda Crowder at (805) 606-0039 or DSN 276-0039.