LARGO, Fla. - Joel Adrian Cruz, 27, listened Monday afternoon to the murder charge against him, as family members grieved in the courtroom for 2-year-old Ananhie Fernandez, the toddler he admitted to throwing against a wall and chair over the weekend.
"She just loved everyone," said her biological father's cousin. "She loved to dance and sing and that's something we won't get back."
Making sure the alleged kid killer won't get out was the family's main mission on this day, but their profound sadness permeated the Pinellas justice complex, just as many of these so-often-seen instances of adults' inability to cope with toddlers' or infants' issues:
"It's developmental stresses of little kids," said Brian McEwan, the Executive Director of Champions for Children -- formerly known as the Child Abuse Council -- an organization that has changed its name in an effort to further its mission of empowering parents to know and understand how to deal with their kids.
"And the way that children learn at this age is through play and through exploration, and through expressing themselves. They are discovering something new about themselves every day.
And programs like one we watched at the Baby Bungalow in Tampa are helping parents figure out the appropriate and optimum responses are as their kids express themselves on the road to adulthood -- that is often so trying and troubling for those of us who are already grown up.
"Know that its very, very normal and common to feel frustration," said McEwen.
There is help for parents and caregivers and it can help stop the problems before they start.
Here is a partial list of resources:
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