DURBAN – Research shows that family stress puts kids at increased risk of abuse. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents and other child caregivers to take time to look after themselves, including eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting enough sleep.
“During this time of understandable anxiety, give back and reach out to other parents when they need support. If someone calls you frustrated about a crying baby or screaming toddler, offer to help. It’s also important to maintain connections via phone or video to friends, family and others who can provide support,” said AAP president Dr Sara Goza.
With many families around the world forced to stay at home, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published tips for parents on how to manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are its suggestions:
- Take a step back: Pay attention to what your body feels like or your thoughts sound like right before you react. If you can step away from an escalating situation, chances are you’ll have a more pleasant day.
- Identify what you might do to take a break: hand off parenting to a partner if possible, splash cold water on your face or take in a breath of fresh air. Even five deep breaths and reminding yourself about your love for your kids can provide the space you need to tackle the situation with a clear(er) mind.
- Choose not to react (when you can): Sometimes planned ignoring of a minor challenging behaviour is the most effective way to move through the day. Another option is to describe what you’re seeing and offer some choices.
- Reset and move on (when you can’t): Unpleasant outbursts or harsh words can happen to everyone. When you’re in this “resetting” mode it’s sometimes helpful for parents to offer a brief apology and gently move into new activities.
Emerging evidence suggests that a little stress, particular in the context of a supportive parent-child relationship, can actually be beneficial because it builds resilience when taking on future challenges.
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