April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Apr 1, 2020, 17:13 PM by Patricia Beach, MD
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That tradition was started in 1983.  In 2016 a Proclamation by President Barak Obama stated, in part, “During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect."[

This commitment to the health and nurture of children is particularly poignant in this Spring of uncertainty.  Many parents are out of work or working at home, sharing space with their children who need and deserve their attention.  Parents who are grateful for gainful employment to provide for their children are surely stretched!  Parents who are stressed by impending rent or mortgage payments, car payments and stretched food budgets are hardly in their best nurture and care mode.

Each situation is different.  Here is some guidance which may help.

  1. Young children must be supervised.
  2. You can’t do it all!Let parents share child care time and work time.
  3. Set up a schedule.Stick to it!Children, too, are upset by their change in routine.If they know what to expect, and when, they will be more comfortable.This also allows parents to share work responsibilities by clearly designating who is in charge.
  4. Go outside when you can.Play board games.Play in the sandbox!Make home-made clay or finger paint and enjoy.Notice all the charming child facial and verbal expression,s and quickly forgive the less attractive moments.
  5. Involve your children in simple activities as their age and skills allow.It may take twice as long to fix a sandwich with help, but what is the rush?You aren’t going anywhere!
  6. Older children may have on-line school, and everyone will need computer time.There’s that schedule again!
  7. Continue with your normal activities as much as possible.If you attend religious services, do so electronically.If bath time is at 7, it is still at 7.
  8. Read to your children.Consider major Family Reading Time of classics like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or the Harry Potter Series.These books create great opportunities to talk about good and evil and perseverance!
  9. If anyone in your family is sick (fever, dry cough) keep yourselves quarantined and stay in touch with your health care provider.There is help in deciding when, and how, to obtain care.Many pediatric practices are seeing children by telemedicine, and can help you decide on the best next steps!

There are many resources on line to help.  Find suggestions that fit your family and ease your stress.  Stay in touch with those you love!

US Department of Health and Human Services at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/ has links to great tip sheets on managing stress, bonding with your baby, and how to be a better dad, among many others.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers this website full of helpful tips:  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx. There are tips for working and learning during the COVID-19 crisis, positive parenting, and honest, accurate answers to questions about COVID-19. 

Both resources are available in English and Spanish.

By Patricia S. Beach, MD
Co-Director, Division of General Academic Pediatrics
Director UTMB ABC Child Safety and Protection Team
Emeritus Scholar, John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine



Also see:

UTMB Health Primary Care Pediatrics
Child Welfare Government Website National Child Abuse Prevention
Prevent Child Abuse America 2020 National Child Abuse Prevention