Of course we are all dealing with unprecedented stress during this difficult time. People are concerned for their physical and financial well being while being cooped up and unable to enjoy typical stress relievers like family/friend interaction, going out to dinner, movies/plays/sporting events (to participate or watch), as well as deeper endeavors like attending religious worship.
There are already studies chronicling the toll this may be taking on family interactions. 19% of parents admit shouting or screaming at their children now, 15% report spanking or slapping them and 11% admit to multiple such incidents. The AAP has concerns that the incidence of child abuse and/or neglect could rise. In many instances, a teacher, clergy, or doctor is the first person to recognize a problem and notify the authorities. With these contacts largely on hold, some of these mistreatments may go unnoticed and unreported.
We at the AAP advocate that it is essentially never appropriate to discipline a child with acts of physical force, or to take actions that berate, belittle, or humiliate them. I cannot overemphasize how strongly we pediatricians feel about this subject. Here are some of the Academy’s guidelines on how to limit the stresses of “shelter in place.”
With children at home so much more, there is also a greater risk of accidental injuries there. Some suggestions/reminders:
- Use childproof locks and gates, including on staircases.
- No walkers–jumper/saucer seats are safer. Better yet, just let your young toddler play freely on the floor with you to supervise.
- Be careful in the use of elevated surfaces with toddlers(changing tables). The floor is safer.
- Secure electric wires and use electric outlet covers.
- Secure window treatment cords.
- No small hard foods or toys within reach of toddlers (if the object fits in a toilet paper roll in 2 planes–length and width– then it can be swallowed or inhaled)
- Store cleansers, toxins, poisons high up, out of reach of young children.
- Do not use space heaters in your home.
- Never leave infants or toddlers unattended by standing water like a bathtub. Little children can even fall head first into a toilet and drown. Keep the bathroom door closed so they do not wander in unnoticed.
- Keep all medicines in their original containers and store in medicine cabinets at all times.
- Rubber bumpers on all sharp edges (coffee tables, fireplace).
- If you own firearms, keep them and ammunition stored separately in locked containers, out of reach of children, and keep keys in separate, secure location.
Keep distance, keep safe, and thanks for following.