Stay Home, Be Safe.
The movement control order (MCO) urges us all to stay home. When we hear the word “home” it usually means a “safe place”. Unfortunately for some children who face the threat of child abuse, home is not a safe place. School is where they seek refuge from their unsafe home environments.
We need to raise awareness regarding the dangers faced by some children during this quarantined period.
Raising children, even without the threat of this pandemic, is one of life’s greatest challenges for many of us. Even the most even-tempered guardian can sometimes “lose it”.
Stress during this pandemic can trigger even more anger and frustration.
So, for parents who are feeling overwhelmed, here are some signs that may indicate that we are crossing the line.
Recognise possible abusive behaviour in yourselfA lot of times there are warning signals that you may be crossing the line into abuse. Be aware and mindful of them. The very first step is to recognise that you have a problem. Here are some tips adapted from HelpGuide.org to help you identify those signs:
- You are unable to stop your anger. You start hitting your child out of frustration. You cannot stop screaming louder and louder.
- You are unable to connect emotionally with your child. You feel irritated and overwhelmed when they request for your attention. You just want to lock yourself up in the room and have some peace and quiet, away from them.
- You are unable to meet your child’s daily needs. You don’t find joy in feeding them or helping them with their homework or any activity. You struggle with simple task like reading a bedtime story or spending time playing a board game.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse. You get drunk or high even around your kids.
- Have realistic expectations.
- Perhaps before the lockdown you have never had to deal with your child 24/7. Use this opportunity to learn about child development, know what is “normal” child behaviour to avoid frustration and anger. For example, a two-year-old toddler will unlikely be able to pour milk into their cereal bowl without spilling.
- Parental burnout can be expected.
- Being “locked in” with your child would require you learning some new parenting skills. Especially if the nanny/housekeeper you hired before has to leave to be with her own family.
- Since you are unable to attend physical classes during this lockdown period, you can search for books, online classes or ask other parents for tips and advice.
- Be aware of the current stressors of MCO.
- It is natural that one should feel stress if your job is being threatened, or you’ve just lost your job and you have no idea how to pay your mortgage or put food on the table.
Cool down by distracting yourself
- If you feel your tension mounting and your anger growing, walk away, perhaps lock yourself in your room for a few minutes to cool down. Distract yourself by listening to relaxing music, chatting with a friend or meditate.
- Self Care
- Do not try to be a Superhero and handle everything yourself. Get enough rest. lack of sleep can lead to moodiness and irritability. If you have a partner or spouse you can take turns with him or her.
- Know that this situation is temporary.
- However if all else fails, get professional help. If you are unable to stop yourself regardless of how hard you try, it’s time to reach out.
Those who need help can contact the Talian Kasih hotline at 15999 or WhatsApp 019-261 5999. The hotline is available 24 hours everyday. These can be dangerous times, especially for kids. Let’s help each other get our kids safely through. It takes a village.
Lean Ong is a psychologist and crisis counsellor and formerly the manager of the Women’s Centre for Change in Penang.
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