By Nancy Kellogg, MD, Child Abuse Specialist, and the team at the Center for Miracles at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new work force: stay-at-home parents who are faced with the 24/7 job of child care. The additional stresses of isolation, buying food, and keeping children happy and safe can be exhausting and frustrating. Here are a few tips:
1. Try to keep a routine for mealtimes and activities so children are engaged and less likely to get bored and irritable.
2. Invent some new activity/game. For example, older children may enjoy a different scavenger hunt each day for a favorite toy. There are plenty of websites to explore ideas: https://time.com/5803373/coronavirus-kids-at-home-activities/
3. Limit screen time for yourself and your children. Social media content is more stressful now and children need to stay healthy and balanced with physical and interpersonal activity. Play outside whenever possible.
4. If you use a babysitter, be sure you speak to references first and ask for frequent updates when you are away. Make sure your children know to call you if they ever feel uncomfortable or scared.
4. Know your triggers.
*A baby who won’t stop crying. Put him in the crib, walk away, and take a few minutes of “time out” for yourself in another room
*A toddler with tantrums. Distract her, redirect attention, and use time out so everyone can calm down.
*Potty training. Have lots of patience and if it is too stressful for you or your child, stop.
5. Be kind to yourself and others. Everyone has been affected by COVID-19.
6. Video chat with friends and family or try a hotline: Counselors are available 24 hours a day at Childhelp’s National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-809.4.A.CHILD
To report suspected child abuse: 1-800-252-5400