The Family Project: Supervision
Q. My five-year-old niece lives in a chaotic household with extended family members. She has had a number of injuries in the last few months that I believe were caused by her seven-year-old cousin. I am concerned that the parent-caregivers in the home are not watching the children. How can I or other family members keep my niece safe?
“At the ages of five and seven, supervision is key,” panelist Erin Stalsitz said. “Supervision is the parents’ or caregivers’ job.
“They should not leave the two children alone together. They should be within the range of vision or hearing all the time, especially when they are concerned about the five-year-old’s injuries.” Stalsitz added that perhaps there should be an assessment of whether the adults in the household have the requisite parenting skills.
Panelist Pam Wallace noted that parenting classes are offered at Project Child.
Panelist Denise Continenza said, “Many schools and preschools have family resource centers.” Lehigh County Children and Youth has in-home service for adults taking care of children, according to Stalsitz.
Panelist Mike Daniels cautioned against parents or caregivers going on the Internet to look for help. “They need to be sure they are getting information from reliable, professional organizations.” It is important to know how the adults deal with each other, Continenza said. “The seven-year-old may be mimicking how the adults are interacting in the household.” If the niece should get hurt again, Wallace said, “it might be in order for the county Children and Youth Services to investigate and make recommendations.” Daniels clarified that if the niece is seriously injured, 911 should be called and the appropriate authorities contacted.
Continenza said young children can be a handful and parents and caregivers need resources. “Asking for help should not be seen as a weakness. It is a sign of strength to ask for help.” She explained that resource centers and counselors are not judgmental. They want to help.
Information: Children and Youth Services, lehighcounty.org, and Better Kid Care, betterkidcare.psu.du, with the videos, “Resilient Caregivers: ‘Bouncing Back’ from Stress” and “Stress: Seeing with Optimism.”
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, Extension Educator, Food, Families and Health, Penn State Extension; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, CTS, and Erin Stalsitz, casework supervisor, Lehigh County Children and Youth.
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Family Project weekly column is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.