How to Protect the Most Vulnerable from COVID-19 Stress and Abuse
One thing that the coronavirus crisis has taught us is that there are potentially serious psychological impacts of a medical crisis. We have all, in one way or another, been forced to live in a temporary "new normal" that's requiring folks to socially distance themselves from family and friends. We are all spending way more time alone and inside our homes than we're used to.
Our friend Brittany Clapp, Family Case Management Supervisor with the Department of Child Services in Indiana, put together some excellent tips on how to deal with stress COVID-19 is adding to our lives. These tips come to us at an exceptionally important time as well. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As you may be aware, Kentucky has the highest rate of child abuse statistically in the United States. Our friends in southern Indiana battle very similar issues and stats.
That's precisely why we think it's important to share these tips.
TIP #1: Teach yourself and your kiddos breathing strategies such as the cupcake or 5 finger breathing. Use these strategies when you or your child are getting worked up.
a. Cupcake: Cup your hands as if you were holding a cupcake, breath in through your nose and blow out your mouth like you are blowing out a candle.
b. 5 finger: Hold up your hand, open all your fingers, start at the outside of the pinky with your other pointer finger, breath in through your nose as you move up the pinky and blow out your mouth when you go down your pinky. Do the same with each finger, until you have done all 5!
TIP #2. Give yourself a time out in your room and/or send your child to their room for a few minutes during a heated time to give you both a break before talking the issue through.
a. If you have a baby that you are having trouble consoling, lay them down in their empty crib, walk out of the room, and breathe! They will be okay while you take a couple of minutes to gather yourself before further meeting their needs.
TIP #3. Phone a friend!
a. When you are stressed, connect with a loved one, ask for support, even if it’s just a brief talk and they can’t be there physically!
b. Do you have a friend or family member with kids? Check on them! Let them know you are there for them. It really takes a village, especially through stressful times.
TIP #4. Exercise and get fresh air daily!
a. Go for a walk with your children.
b. Let the kiddos ride their bikes.
c. Set up relay races inside or in the yard for the kids and you!
TIP #5. Keep your kids on a routine.
a. Kids strive on routines, so try to keep a daily schedule.
b. In that routine, plan fun things for you all to do together such as crafts, games, coloring, basketball, but also plan breaks in the day for you each to have some time alone (naps, reading time, etc)
Finally, Brittany echoes a sentiment shared repeatedly by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, "We are all going to make it through!" And she urges you to take a deep breath and reach for support when needed!
And, these two numbers are vitally important numbers to have on hand. If you know of a potential instance of child abuse, you are asked to call one of the following numbers:
Indiana Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-800-5556
Kentucky Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 1-800-752-6200