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
- Talking to Children About Coronavirus – AACAP
- Facts For Families: Stress Management and Teens – AACAP
- Facts For Families: News and Children – AACAP
- Finding the Right Words to Talk with Children and Teens about Coronavirus – Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
- 7 Ways to Support Kids and Teens Through the Coronavirus Pandemic (MGH Clay Center):
- How to Talk to Children about the Coronavirus, Harvard Medical School
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists
- Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus, NPR
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.
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.
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:
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
- Managing Anxiety Around COVID-19: Tips for You and Your School Community – Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
- CASEL Cares – A new initiative from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning that connects the SEL community with experts to support schools and teachers during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Social-Emotional Learning: Not Just for Kids. In this post on The Cult of Pedagogy, Wendy Turner explains how she models the five core SEL competencies in her classroom and why teachers should lead by example.
- Coronavirus Public Health Emergency: Psychological Tips for Children and Adolescents’ Emotions, Department of Human Sciences, University of Verona
- 5 Ways to Help Children Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety, Education Development Center
- Coronavirus, Online Learning, Social Isolation, and Cyberbullying: How To Support Our Students, Cyberbullying Research Center
- Ethical Considerations: School Counseling in a Virtual Setting, American School Counselors Association