There is no time like a pandemic to test our skills in social and emotional behavior.  The stress on families is enormous.

Yet such a challenge also provides an excellent opportunity for a family to hone its social and emotional behavior skill set, including recognizing and managing our emotions, developing caring and concern for others, and forming positive relationships with others so that we can work together to solve problems and overcome this crisis.

Fortunately, a wealth of resources is available to support and protect families during the coronavirus pandemic (listed below). We suggest that families incorporate these supports into a simple three-step plan for successfully navigating the coronavirus pandemic:

Step One – Talk About It.

Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. Such conversations provide a forum for sharing feelings, for providing reassurance and real information, and for building a strong sense of citizenship by emphasizing our responsibility to keep others safe, not just ourselves.

Talking to Kids About Coronavirus

Step Two – Become Experts in Good Hygiene.

Frequent hand washing (for at least 20 seconds) and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, are essential for stopping the transmission of infectious droplets to your nose, mouth and eyes.

How to wash your hands – Sesame Street

Step Three – Practice Physical Distancing.

Stay home as much as possible – the coronavirus is spread primarily through respiratory droplets and aerosols emitted by infected people when they talk, breathe, cough or sneeze, and staying home protects your family as well as other people.  If you need to leave the house, stay at least six feet away from other people, and wear a mask – doing so protects others as well as ourselves.

Explaining physical distancing to children.


C. Edward Coffey MD

Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of SC, Charleston SC; Member, Board of Directors, SEL4SC.

Debbie Jones, Executive Director, SEL4SC.

Some additional helpful resources:

More to explore