Helping Give Away Psychological Science/COVID manual

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Click Here for Landing Page
HGAPS ALERT: Help for Suicidal Ideation
Click Here for Landing Page

It is understandable to feel hopeless right now. Below are some important resources you can use to improve mental health and find relief. If you are having thoughts of suicide please seek help. Please know you are not alone. There is help.
Link to Suicide Resources:

~ National suicide hotline 24/7: 1-800-273-8255 ~ Crisis Textline 24/7: Text HOME to 741741 ~
~ Coping With Suicidal Thoughts ~ Suicide Prevention in Schools ~

Not suicidal but still want help? Click on a link below!
~ Coping with COVID-19 ~ Coping with Social Isolation ~ Finding a Therapist ~ Other Resources ~
[Master List of Mental Health Resources]
~ More at HGAPS.org ~



[add introduction to manual]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Talking with children about COVID-19[edit | edit source]

Many adults have expressed concerns over how best to approach conversations with children about the  pandemic. While the topics may change over time, and some conversations may be easier to discuss than  others, all parents and caregivers can benefit from the following tips:

  • Check your own stress level before talking with your child. If you are overly worried or fearful, your child will pick up on these emotions and  become more stressed.
  • Remain calm, comforting, reassuring and supportive. What you say and how you say it can help  to reduce your child’s worries.  
  • Rehearse or practice having a difficult conversation ahead of time with another adult. This way,  you can be better prepared when you have that conversation with your child.
  • Have notes handy. Notes can help to guide your conversation.  
  • Be open to hearing what your child has to say. For example, early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, many adults were  focused on safety, while many children were concerned about how their lives were disrupted  (e.g., not able to see friends or play outside). In order to hear your child’s concerns, leave space in the conversation for any questions they might have.

Tips for adult self-care[edit | edit source]

Taking care of your own emotional and health needs is an important part of caring for your family and friends.  After all, if you are not doing okay, you can’t be there to help others, including your child. The better you care for yourself, the better you will be able to provide for your child and  family.  

There are many ideas for adult self care. These principles include:  

  1. Establishing a regular routine.
  2. Limiting exposure to news and social media coverage of the pandemic.
  3. Staying healthy by eating nutritious foods and sleeping well.
  4. Engaging in regular exercise (which also helps to reduce anxiety and feeling “down.”).
  5. Keeping a positive outlook (remind yourself that we are strong, need to be patient, and will  eventually get over this crisis.).
  6. Staying connected with loved ones and friends who care about you and support you.
  7. Practicing relaxation and/or mindfulness.
  8. Have a “me time” in your daily schedule. That is – take a break from work and others at home to  do something you enjoy or find relaxing (such as reading a book, taking a bath, calling a friend,  working on a hobby, playing a game, etc.).  
  9. Say “no” to additional family or work obligations, if you can.
  10. Practice yoga or other calming exercises.
  11. Contact a mental health professional if you feel overly stressed, upset or worried.

Resources for self-care[edit | edit source]

Psych Central: What Self Care Is - and What It Isn’t, by Raphailia Michael, MA

Psychology Today: 25 Simple Self Care Tools for Parents, by Erin Leyba, LCSW, Ph.D.

Understanding your child's response to the pandemic[edit | edit source]

Understanding the pandemic: What is COVID-19?[edit | edit source]

This section will help your child understand COVID-19 and events surrounding the pandemic. It will also help to  clear up any confusion your child may have about the virus or what has happened to them, their family or their  community during the pandemic.

What is COVID-19?[edit | edit source]

COVID-19 is a commonly used name for the disease that is caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. The “CO” stands for corona; “VI” for virus; “D” for disease, and “19” for 2019, the year it was discovered. You may also hear the virus referred to as the “novel coronavirus.” The word “novel” means “new” – meaning that this is a new type of coronavirus that hasn’t been seen before. Even people protected from previously existing forms of coronavirus have not built up immunity, and the vaccines manufactured to treat COVID-19 do not prevent other infectious viruses.

What is a Coronavirus?[edit | edit source]

Coronaviruses are common in nature and affect both humans and animals. They are named after large spikes  on their surface that resemble a crown that a king or queen might wear. According to the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC), there are seven known types of coronaviruses that affect humans. Some coronaviruses are responsible for the common cold. Others can cause more serious diseases, like COVID-19.

Understanding how your child feels[edit | edit source]

For many children and adults, an upsetting event such as a pandemic can bring about strong feelings and  mixed emotions. As time passes, their feelings about the pandemic may change. This is normal for those who  experience a natural disaster or other distressing event. Keep in mind that there may be days and times when  you will feel better than others.

Tips for talking to children about feelings[edit | edit source]

As shown by post-disaster research, children hide their true feelings if they think that sharing them would further upset parents in distress.[1] Sometimes your child’s concerns may have to do with the pandemic. Other times your child may focus on other  events. Either way, the guidelines on this page will help you identify how your child is feeling and the focus of  his or her concerns. Remember to be “calm and collected” before speaking with your child. If you feel you are  having trouble with your own feelings, speak with another adult first. 

Some guidelines for talking with your child:

  • Listen to your child’s feelings rather than controlling the conversation yourself.
  • Acknowledge your child’s perspectives by saying  things like: “I know it’s been hard…[to miss your friends, miss your favorite activities, etc.].”
  • Normalize your child’s statements by making comments like these: “It’s okay to feel that way.” “It sounds like you are scared.” “That part made you feel sad.”  
  • Be neutral. Do not judge or criticize your child. Make comments like these: “That’s interesting.” “Tell me more about it.” “What do you mean?”
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know” if your child asks a question you cannot answer.
  • Express your own feelings, but try to avoid alarming or upsetting your child.  
  • Pay attention to behaviors that show your child has strong feelings, such as:
    • Fidgeting or squirming.
    • Poor eye contact (doesn’t look at you while talking).
    • Facial expressions that show anger, sadness, or worry.
  • Keep in mind that listening to your child is a good way of showing emotional support.

Strategies useful for all children[edit | edit source]

Focus on positive ways to cope[edit | edit source]

People cope with stress in many ways. You and your child have to find ways that work best for each of you. Because the COVID-19 pandemic keeps unfolding and changing, it is hard to know in advance what events you or your child may need to cope with. Regardless, you and your child will do better if you use positive coping strategies to deal with any stressful events that happen in life.

Unhelpful ways of coping can cause more harm than good. This is a particular concern if families must stay at home for an  extended period of time. Yelling, getting angry, and blaming  others are all examples of unhelpful ways to cope. These unhelpful ways can lead to new problems and increase already high stress levels. Children who use unhelpful ways of coping have more difficulty dealing with their reactions to stressful  events, like a pandemic. It is important to recognize when your child is doing something unhelpful and instead help them find better ways to manage things.

Some positive coping strategies:

  • Maintain normal routines.
  • Talk with friends/family/coworkers.
  • Take up a new hobby.
  • Exercise/stay physically healthy.
  • Take time for self care/get some rest. Reduce exposure to news/social media.
  • Write about thoughts and experiences. Listen to soothing, calming music.
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show.
  • Talk to a counselor/join a “virtual”  support group.

Keep a normal routine[edit | edit source]

One of the most upsetting aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the disruption to everyday life. Normal activities  and routines provide children and adults with a sense of comfort, as their days are more predictable. If these  activities and routines are abruptly changed or disrupted, they can shake a person’s feelings of safety and  security.

During the pandemic, everyday activities and routines may have been disrupted for a long period of time. Schools  may close or switch to remote learning. Your child’s extracurricular activities, such as dance classes or sports  leagues, may be cancelled. Further, because of “social distancing,” your child may not be able to spend time  with family and friends in person. To assist in coping with these life disruptions, it will be helpful to establish a  new routine for your child during the pandemic – a Plan B routine.

Reduce media exposure[edit | edit source]

You can help children cope with the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing their exposure to upsetting news and  images of the pandemic. Research shows that children who view upsetting images of traumatic events (such  as people dying) report more distress than those not exposed to such images. This is because visual images  are ways of experiencing a traumatic event. Disturbing visual images can lead to increased fears, worries, bad dreams, and  trouble sleeping. In addition, limiting children’s use of social media can be helpful because a lot of misinformation (such as  fake news or rumors) spreads that way.

Help your child avoid media images that can be upsetting.  Limit your child’s viewing of news programs on TV or of photos  and videos on the Internet. Limit their social media use as  well. In particular, limit programs or websites with images of  sick people, death and destruction, or stories about families  who were separated or hurt by COVID-19.

Prepare vs. scare[edit | edit source]

Many news stations and websites report events in a dramatic and sometimes scary way. One way to reduce stress is to turn the television or computer off once you and your family have the information you need. Too much viewing will scare (and create fears and worries), rather than prepare. 

Stay healthy and fit[edit | edit source]

Stress affects people physically as well as mentally. During and after a stressful event, many people do not feel  like eating or may have trouble sleeping. These changes make it harder to cope with stress. They can also  weaken a person’s immune system. It is important to stay active and healthy during the pandemic, even if you  are mainly at home. A child who is healthy and fit will find it easier to cope with stress. In fact, all of us do better  when we feel strong and healthy. 

Keep a positive outlook[edit | edit source]

It can be difficult to keep a positive outlook given all the sad news in the media and disruptions to people’s lives because of COVID-19. But research shows that people cope better with stress if they have hope and keep a  positive attitude. Research also suggests that being optimistic can promote better immunity against infection. So, not only will a positive outlook help you and your family cope better with the pandemic, it may also boost your  immune system.

Help others and give thanks[edit | edit source]

Helping others and giving thanks are positive ways to cope with feelings. In fact, research shows that “helping  others” and “expressing thanks” leads to positive emotions. These activities can help children feel they are doing  something positive during a difficult time.

There are many ways children can help during the pandemic. For example, while at home, children can do  something as simple as opening a door for somebody, completing a chore, assisting with a home improvement  project or helping raise money online for a local non-profit. Be creative; have your child use their talents and  strengths to think of ways to help others.

Help others by volunteering[edit | edit source]

Volunteering your time to assist a worthy cause or help others is also an excellent way to cope with the pandemic. While you may not be able to volunteer “in person,” you can help remotely. Contact your local United Way, a local community foundation or a community-service organization that interests you and ask how you might be able to  help during the pandemic. You can even contact a local hospital to see if they need volunteers to make masks or other needed supplies for medical staff. Encourage your child to volunteer as well by choosing projects that you can work on together.

One great volunteer activity you and your child can do at home during the pandemic is to help scientists conduct important research from your home computer! An excellent website to find people-powered research opportunities is Zooniverse

Giving thanks[edit | edit source]

Giving thanks can be done in many ways. For example, children can write emails or letters, or create and send thank you cards or short videos. They can also make a small donation to a non-profit or charity in honor of the  person they are thankful for. Children can send notes of appreciation to front line medical workers (e.g., doctors, nurses) or first responders (e.g., firefighters, police, paramedics) to thank them for their help and support during  the pandemic. Children can also put a thank you note or drawing on the front door to thank people who continue to deliver the mail, packages or food.

For ideas on ways to express thanks, check out PBS's article.

Stay relaxed[edit | edit source]

An important part of caring for your family and friends is taking care of your own emotional and health needs. After all, you can’t be there to help others, including your child, if you are not doing okay. Self care becomes  even more important in times of stress, such as the current pandemic. Both adults and children can practice self care. This section provides some ideas you and your child can try at home. 

Relaxation: One helpful self-care technique is called relaxation, where you focus on relaxing all areas of your  body, from head to toe. As you let go of tension in your body, your mind can also relax. A relaxed mind can  think more clearly. This helps with problem solving, conflict resolution and overcoming challenges. A relaxed body and calm mind also helps adults and children cope with stress.

Mindfulness: Another self-care strategy that can reduce stress is a practice called mindfulness. Mindfulness involves focusing on one’s present experience, instead of focusing on the past or the future. If you feel overwhelmed with the fast pace of the pandemic, constantly changing information, or worry about the future, this strategy can help. Palouse Mindfulness is a free, online 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course for meditators of all experience levels. You can access the full course and its materials here.

Relaxation and mindfulness techniques take practice. If you practice them at least once a day, they can help reduce the effects of stress and help keep you calm during challenging times.

Positive ways to cope with difficult situations[edit | edit source]

Coping with fears and worries: What do you worry about?[edit | edit source]

When stressful events occur, children and adults often feel fearful and worried. These feelings are common, especially with a pandemic like COVID-19 that can cause a lot of health problems and disrupt everyone’s lives. Pandemics can bring a whole new set of fears and worries that may not have been present before. They also can increase existing fears. As the pandemic unfolds, it will be common for children and adults to worry about  their personal health and safety, the health and safety of loved ones, and what may happen in the future. 

In general, fears and worries are normal. However, if they interfere with your child’s activities (e.g., keeping them  from doing schoolwork or interacting with family and friends), then your child will need help in dealing with them. To help your child cope with his or her worries, you must understand the kinds of things your child worries about. This section is designed to help you and your child identify and cope with fears and worries.

Keep in mind that although your child may express fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic, he or she may be  worried or even more concerned about other things. Also, since worries can be learned or worsened through  viewing TV and other media sources, we included a section to help reduce media use. You also might find a relaxation exercise helpful. Because your child’s worries may change over time, it is  a good idea to repeat this section periodically.

Overcoming fears and worries[edit | edit source]

Although fears and worries are common and normal, they can become a problem. Learning how to cope with them is important. In general, talking to someone, gradually facing fears, and finding practical solutions are all positive ways of coping with fears and worries.

Talk with someone: Sometimes worries lessen when a child has someone to share them with. Help your child identify “worry friends” he or she can talk with when feeling worried or scared. List people at home (e.g., parents, older siblings), in school (e.g., school counselor), and in the community (e.g.,  friends, relatives). Keep a list of your child’s worry friends and their phone numbers on a piece of paper, and let your child keep a copy. Encourage your child to contact a worry friend regularly. This may help your child to feel  better. You also can set up a regular “talk time” with your child, to see how they are feeling.

Face fears gradually: Children who are able to face fears in a gradual and safe manner often become less  fearful. For example, a child who is nervous about a parent leaving the house to buy groceries may become less fearful if a parent leaves and returns home safely on several occasions. Encourage your child to be brave and  stay strong. Reward your child for being brave and facing fears. Do not reward your child’s fears by letting your child avoid school or chores, or by giving in to your child’s wishes because of fears and worries.

Find practical solutions: Often, a worry can be lessened by thinking of a practical and simple plan to master that worry. For example, if your child is worried about keeping up with schoolwork, try to think of ways to help  your child cope with this worry. You can help your child find a quiet place to do schoolwork, check in with your child periodically during the day (if working at home) to see if they have any schoolwork-related questions, and even ask the teacher to assign a “classroom buddy” to assist your child in reviewing or checking work together. These simple solutions may help your child feel better about school and bolster their support system.

Coping with angry feelings[edit | edit source]

It is not unusual for children and adults to have angry feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody feels stressed because life is more difficult. Disruptions may occur on and off for a long period of time, which can add to already high levels of stress. While things may be frustrating, remember that many people are in a similar situation. You and your child must find positive ways to deal with angry feelings.

Children may want to “blame others” for bad things that happen or may just be more irritable than usual. If your child is feeling angry or irritable, explain that it is okay to feel that way. This is a very normal feeling. Explain, however, that it is NOT okay to take out angry feelings on other people.

Coping with sadness and loss[edit | edit source]

During and even after the COVID-19 pandemic, children and adults may feel sadness or loss. Many people experience these feelings, especially those who had significant changes in their way of life or lost a loved one. Even if people do not lose a loved one or have life changes, they may still feel sad. Sometimes people feel sad for those who lost a friend, family member, job or business during the pandemic. People also may feel sad because  they don’t know how to help the situation, because they feel alone, or because things just “aren’t the same” since  the pandemic began.

In general, there are some things that can help when you or your child feel sad:  

  • Focus on the positive things you have (health, loved ones, friends, etc.).
  • Stay connected - talk to a friend or family member when feeling “blue.”
  • Stay active by doing things you normally enjoy – even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Exercise.
  • Do things to help others.
  • Express gratitude or thanks.

When do normal feelings of sadness become a problem?[edit | edit source]

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for most people. All around the world, people’s lives have changed.  It has been hard for children and adults to spend time with friends and family or to do activities they normally enjoy. The uncertainty of the pandemic, coupled with social distancing and “stay at home” rules, has made many  people feel sad, isolated, uneasy and, at times, overwhelmed. These feelings are normal reactions to a stressful  situation that is challenging and hard to control, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although feelings of sadness and loss are normal reactions to stress, they can become a problem if the feelings  last for a long time or if they interfere with personal relationships, schoolwork, or job performance. Some children and adults may have felt sad or depressed even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In this case, the pandemic may make those feelings stronger. Some children and adults may feel that the situation is hopeless or  that they don’t want to go on any more. If any of these things happen to you or your child, it is important to seek professional advice or counseling to cope with the feelings. Below are some signs of depression that children (and adults) may show.

Some signs of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or depressed mood.
  • Irritability (in children).
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Fatigue or low energy.
  • Change in appetite or weight (increase or decrease).
  • Change in sleep (insomnia or too much sleep).
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Thoughts of suicide or death.

These signs are also seen with:

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless.
  • Frequent physical complaints.
  • Difficulties in personal relationships with family or friends.
  • Poor school or work performance.
  • Social withdrawal.

If feelings last for several weeks or interfere with your daily life, it may help to seek professional advice and counseling. Depression is a serious condition that affects a person’s body, moods, and thoughts. If you think someone may be suffering from  depression, encourage them to contact a mental health professional. If left untreated, depression can lead to  long-term problems. 

Important information and additional resources[edit | edit source]

Seeking help for children at risk[edit | edit source]

Although many children are experiencing stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to note that most children are resilient and will be okay if they have a little help and support. Research after many different types of disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and terrorist events like 9/11, shows that the vast majority of children who are initially distressed do recover over time.[2] [3]

However, research also shows that a small minority of children, typically less than 20%, are at risk for a slow recovery or long-term difficulties. These “at risk” children may need extra help to recover from stressors such as COVID-19.

Research shows that children’s disaster-related stress can be described in one of three ways:

  1. Some children are resilient. They might be a bit distressed at first, but mostly seem calm, cool, and collected.
  2. Other children may be distressed for a while, but gradually recover over time. This often is the largest group of children. So, even if your child is distressed, it is likely that he or she will do better over time, especially with your support.
  3. Finally, other children appear chronically distressed. They have high distress levels and do not recover much over time. These children may benefit from receiving professional help.

How to tell if your child fits the chronic pattern and need professional help?[edit | edit source]

Many children who fit the chronic pattern (above) often have challenges even before a disaster. In general, research indicates that children are more likely to have chronic problems after a disaster if they have:

  • Behavior or learning problems (e.g., autism spectrum, ADHD, learning disability) even before the disaster. For example, a child with autism may find it hard to adjust to the change in daily routines and hard to learn without individual, specialized attention. A child with ADHD or other learning problems may now struggle with schoolwork and with staying “on task” while attending school remotely.
  • Emotional problems even before the disaster. For example, children who felt anxious or sad even before the pandemic may find that their fears or sadness have increased.
  • Little social support from friends or family.
  • Major life stressors occurring, such as a close family member or friend dying, or parental divorce or conflict in the home.
  • Poor strategies for coping with stress, such as yelling at others, or blaming themselves or others for what happened. These strategies reflect poor emotion regulation, and create more stress for children and adults.

Children also are at risk for chronic distress if they experience the following because of the pandemic:

  • Lost a loved one (family member, friend).
  • Have a parent who is a medical worker, a first responder (e.g., police), or a military member. These children may be worried or scared that their loved one is in danger. They also may miss being able to physically be with the parent due to concerns about virus transmission.

When should I seek professional help for my child?[edit | edit source]

Consider seeking professional help for your child if your child fits one or more of the “at risk” descriptions above and is experiencing a lot of COVID-19 related stress that does not seem to be getting better. It also is a good idea to seek help if your child is so bothered by the pandemic or related events that he or she is having a very hard time in school, at home, or with family members and friends.

In general, the same advice applies to adults! If you are distressed and your stress reactions do not improve or they interfere with your everyday life, you should consider seeking professional help.

Where to seek help?[edit | edit source]

You can seek help for your child from local mental health professionals (e.g., psychologists, social workers, school counselors, etc.). For non-emergencies, you can find a psychologist via the American Psychological Association’s website at http://locator.apa.org. You also can call 2-1-1 or ask your child’s doctor for a referral. We especially recommend seeking help from psychologists who are trained in evidence-based strategies for child mental health, such as those affiliated with the American Psychological Association.

You can find information about how and where to seek help – and directories for local providers – by going to the website for Effective Child Therapy.

Where can I get emergency professional help for my child or another family member?[edit | edit source]

If you or your child needs emergency help right away, call 9-1-1 or check the government listings of your local phone book for “mental health crisis hotlines.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Staying connected[edit | edit source]

“Staying connected” with friends and family is a very important part of coping with disasters and stressful events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Close family and friends provide emotional support that is needed to cope with challenging stressors. Research shows that social support from family and friends reduces children’s feelings of distress and contributes to their positive physical and mental health.

Staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic can be especially challenging because of social distancing restrictions as well as the closing of schools, parks, and recreational activities (where children learn and play with others). Children especially miss friends that they see often during or after school. This means parents need to be creative in finding ways for their child to stay connected with friends and family.

Ways for children to stay connected with friends and family:

  • Talk on the phone.
  • Send a text message to say “hi” or send a joke or photo to let someone know you are thinking of them.
  • Connect to friends or family via videoconferencing.
  • Write a letter or make a video to send to family or friends who live far away.

Many smart devices like tablets and phones have free apps that can be used to connect with others. Once connected, your child can participate in fun social activities together with their friends and family, such as watching a movie, playing a game, and telling jokes. Check out the resources below for some more ideas.

Some additional resources on helping children stay connected:[edit | edit source]

University of Maryland Medical System: Staying Connected While Practicing Social Distancing

11 Super Fun Ways to Keep Kids Social, by Nicole Fabian-Weber

Create a calm down corner[edit | edit source]

Research shows that calm down corners can be effective in teaching children social and emotional skills while also lessening outbursts and problem behaviors. In fact, many teachers successfully use calm down corners in classrooms around the country.

What It Is: A Calm Down Corner is a small, quiet area that your child or children can go to when they get overwhelmed, sad, worried, frustrated, angry or upset and need some space to calm down and process their feelings. It’s important to teach your child how to use it and help them practice by trying it out before they need it.

Why It Helps: All children (and adults) become overwhelmed with emotion at times and need to find ways to manage those feelings. Sometimes children get upset quickly, and without skills to calm themselves down, they might lash out with an angry outburst or problem behavior. By creating a Calm Down Corner in your home, you’re teaching your child how to take charge of their feelings in a positive way. This is a lifelong skill they can use and develop as they grow older. With practice, age and experience, children can get better at managing their emotions, just like any other skill they learn and practice with adult support.

Importantly, a calm down corner is not a timeout or punishment area. They are less likely to confuse it with timeout if you teach your child how to use it, give them the choice to go there when they are upset, and praise them for making a good choice. Punishing a child for getting frustrated or upset is not a long-term solution, as this doesn’t address the main problem. Instead, help children learn social-emotional skills in order to recognize and control their emotions and behaviors.

Steps to creating a calm down corner[edit | edit source]

  1. Find a quiet location that offers some privacy, such as the back of a dining room or living room or in your child’s bedroom. Involve your child in choosing a location.
  2. Set up the corner so that it is peaceful, calming and comfortable. Many corners have a colored carpet or yoga mat that make up the “floor.” Some have a bean bag chair, pillows or a comfortable chair for the child to sit on. Use what you have at home and ask your child to help you pick out materials and set them up.
  3. Decorate the sides/walls with posters or other items that help children identify how they are feeling and pick a way to calm down. For example, you can place cards or printed pages with ideas for some deep breathing exercises that your child can do. Some excellent ready-made posters can be purchased online at: www.teacherspayteachers.com (search for calm down corner posters).
  4. Add a calm down kit. This is often a small container or basket that has activities, books and sensory items that your child can use while in the corner. Some common materials include fidget toys, stress balls, scented markers, coloring books, silly putty, stuffed animals, a soft pillow or a favorite blanket. Try to use items you already have around the house. Leave this kit in the corner at all times.
  5. Check in with your child after they leave the calm down corner to see how it went, how they are feeling now and what activities they chose to do while in the corner. You can give them praise for using the corner in a positive way!

Introduce the calm down corner to your child[edit | edit source]

After creating your calm down corner, gently introduce your child to it. Begin by explaining what a calm down corner is, what it is used for and when to use it. You can start by saying something like this:

“Have you ever heard of a Calm Down Corner? You may have something like this in one of your classrooms at school. A calm down corner is a safe place that you can go to when you are upset or you have lots of big feelings that you are having a hard time with. This is not a place you go to when you are in trouble. It is a place you go to when you need some time alone to calm down or to think about things.”

Let your child know that using the calm down corner is a choice they have when they are feeling upset. They can go there anytime on their own. Adults can also remind kids they have a choice to go to the calm down corner when they feel it will help them.

Next, go over every item in the corner together. It is a good idea to pretend to use the calm down corner in front of your child as an example and then invite them to practice. You can ask your child if there is anything else in the home he or she would like to add to their calm down corner kit, such as a favorite doll or a soft blanket.

Consider role playing a few scenarios with your child on when would be an appropriate time to use the calm down corner. You can even make this a fun game and have your child recommend situations you could use the corner as well!

Understanding the pandemic: Reliable resources[edit | edit source]

Many parents have found it challenging to find reliable information on COVID-19 and events related to the pandemic. One reason for this may be that the COVID-19 pandemic is the first pandemic where large populations have been relying on social media for information. Today, there are countless ways in which people gather and share information, and most of these outlets do not fact-check the information being shared. This has resulted in a huge amount of misinformation about the pandemic being spread across the globe. Misinformation can, at the very least, result in increased stress. On a more serious level, misinformation can put people and their families at risk of serious harm, and may even result in what could have been an avoidable loss of life.

The pandemic has been moving quickly, and information is continuously being updated by local, state, national and international authorities. To make informed decisions for your family, you will need as much accurate information as possible. But it can be difficult to sort through the mountain of information and know what is true and what is not. It is also important to not overwhelm yourself by constantly watching or reading news about the pandemic.

One recommended strategy is to identify and keep a list of just a few trusted resources that you can rely on for accurate information. It may be a good idea to choose one local, one national and one international news source for updates on the pandemic. Keep in mind that social media may NOT be a reliable source for news regarding the pandemic.

When looking for trusted sources, choose ones that highlight facts and not opinions, feature credible experts and witnesses (who can be verified), and have a longstanding reputation for accuracy and fairness. Government agencies, for example, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and international agencies, like the World Health Organization, can provide reliable information on the virus itself, including how to protect against it, symptoms to look out for and treatments.

Additional resources[edit | edit source]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (official website):

  • Information on the coronavirus, how to clean and disinfect surfaces, and important health issues can be found here.
  • Specific information on children and COVID-19 can be found here.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Information and resources on assisting children during the COVID-19 crisis and other disasters.

World Health Organization: Contains up-to-date information on the current COVID-19 crisis and corrects misinformation.

National Association of School Psychologists: Helpful resource center with information on COVID-19 for parents and educators.

We’re In This Together: Stay Home Miami from the Children’s Trust: Great information and activities for kids anywhere!

References[edit | edit source]

  1. La Greca, A., Silverman, W. K., Vernberg, E. M., & Prinstein, M. J. (1996). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress in children after Hurricane Andrew: a prospective study. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 64(4), 712–723. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.64.4.712
  2. Bonanno, George A.; Brewin, Chris R.; Kaniasty, Krzysztof; Greca, Annette M. La (2010-01-01). "Weighing the Costs of Disaster: Consequences, Risks, and Resilience in Individuals, Families, and Communities". Psychological Science in the Public Interest 11 (1): 1–49. doi:10.1177/1529100610387086. ISSN 1529-1006. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100610387086. 
  3. La Greca, Annette M.; Lai, Betty S.; Llabre, Maria M.; Silverman, Wendy K.; Vernberg, Eric M.; Prinstein, Mitchell J. (2013-08-01). "Children’s Postdisaster Trajectories of PTS Symptoms: Predicting Chronic Distress". Child & Youth Care Forum 42 (4): 351–369. doi:10.1007/s10566-013-9206-1. ISSN 1573-3319. PMID 24683300. PMC PMC3964678. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-013-9206-1.