Every April, the Marine Corps joins the country in observing National Child Abuse Prevention Month. With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the headlines, child abuse cases are on the rise. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) shares some tips for navigating this unique chapter of life, while making your home as safe and pleasant as possible.
- Find things to be thankful for every day. This will help you maintain a positive attitude, let children see the good that continues to exists, and will help alleviate any fears they may have.
- Encourage your children to come to you with any questions or concerns. They are more likely to discuss COVID-19, including their fears about it, if they sense you are approachable. Check out our COVID-19 resources for more information.
- During uncertain times, keeping a schedule will help your family find a collective sense of calm due to the predictability it provides.
- Eat regular, nutritious meals with your family. Teach your children how to stay healthy by choosing healthy meals. Show them how to plan a meal, cook it, set the table, and clean up after.
- Make family fun a priority. Families, who have fun together, build positive collective memories. Try cooking a meal, playing games, or watching a family movie for a bit of family fun.
- Get outdoors. Enjoy time in nature and bask in its restorative benefits. But please observe local and state outdoor restrictions, and keep yourselves and your family a healthy physical distance from other people including, six feet of separation. The goal is to enjoy family time outdoors, while limiting the risk for spreading the virus.
- Get moving. Regular exercise can relieve stress, improve your mood, and benefit your immune system. To help, check out Semper Fit's High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) at HOME Workout Series. All workouts are free and can be done without equipment. HITT at HOME Workouts are posted daily and are accessible on the HITT Facebook page. You can also reach out to a Military OneSource health and wellness coach to develop an exercise plan with the equipment you have at home.
- Build-in time for creativity. This may include time for children to practice an instrument, draw, paint, try their hand at drama, or develop other skills. Consider a family home-improvement project. Online platforms are filled with how-to videos.
- Take time for self-care. Spend time on favorite activities that provide you with mental and emotional space, even joy. Doing so will help build the resilience needed to get through this challenging period.
It is normal to feel stressed and concerned during these times. There is a saying in psychology that “what we resist, persists,” so the best way to begin to address an issue is to face it. Your local installation Family Advocacy Program and Community Counseling Program provide counseling if you or your family is feeling overwhelmed and needs support. These services can be accessed by telephone in many cases. Additional services and resources are also available through Military OneSource.
More related COVID-19 guidance can be found on the CDC website. You can also contact your local Family Advocacy Program office for resources year-round.