Social Emotional Support for Students

We are living in unprecedented times and we all are adjusting, coping and trying to secure a new normal. While we are steadily working together to address the multiple challenges the pandemic has brought it is important to remember you are not alone! We are in this together!  It is especially important to keep this in mind as children are looking to the adults around them for guidance.   They are watching to see how to handle all the changes, how to adjust to new norms, how to cope with feelings and emotions.  This process of learning how to appropriately handle emotions, to make health decisions, maintain relationships, show empathy and express ourselves is referred to as Social Emotional Learning, SEL.  As with all learning, Social Emotional Learning starts at home from a very early age and is crucial in child development. SEL is taught in many ways, modeling is one key way, parents and teachers are often role models.  According to CASEL’s integrated framework, Social Emotional Learning has five core competencies, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship skills.  As we navigate these uncertain times, it is vital to be aware, sensitive and supportive of our children.  Here are some FAQ’s and SEL resources, to assist you.  If you have questions or concerns please feel free to contact, Deborah Badertscher.

How do I know if my child is doing alright?

Check in with them!  Set some time aside to sit down with them, one on one and listen to what they are thinking, feeling and hearing.  Often child hear misinformation, or they misunderstand what they are hearing.  When you start with listening, you will have an opportunity to address any misconceptions, discuss concerns and answer questions, allowing your child to guide the conversation.   If you are not sure of answer to question they have, take the opportunity to investigate the answer together.  By exploring the answer together, you are modeling problem solving and self-reliance both SEL skills.

How can I help my child understand what is happening with Covid-19?

It’s important to keep explanations age appropriate, below are some guidelines provide by National Association of School Psychologist, NASP.   No matter how old your child is, it is vital to encourage them to talk about how their thoughts and feelings

·       Early elementary school children. Provide brief, simple information that balances COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people make every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as "adults are working hard to keep you safe."

·       Upper elementary and early middle school children. This age group often is more vocal in asking questions about whether they indeed are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 spreads in their area. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss the efforts national, state, and community leaders are doing to prevent germs from spreading.

·       Upper middle and high school students. Issues can be discussed in more depth. Refer them to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Engage them in decision-making about family plans, scheduling, and helping with chores at home.

 

What can I do if my child is worried about contracting Covid-19?

Listen to their concern, try to figure out what is causing the concern.  Active listening is a good way to find out what is triggering your child’s concern. Active listening includes staying calm, being open, attentive and reassuring.  Once you have identified the root of the concern, you will be able to specifically address the concern. Keep in mind, television and social media COVID-19 coverage is intense continued updates can increase fear and anxiety.  Be sure to monitor television and social media viewing. Here are some ideas to address a few common concerns from kidshealth.org.

Kids and teens often worry more about family and friends than themselves. For example, if kids hear that older people are more likely to be seriously ill, they might worry about their grandparents. Letting them call or video chat with older relatives can help them feel reassured about loved ones.

 

·       Give your child specific things to do to feel in control. Teach kids that getting lots of sleep and washing their hands well and often can help them stay strong and well. Explain that regular hand washing also helps stop viruses from spreading to others. Be a good role model and let your kids see you washing your hands often!

·       Talk about all the things that are happening to keep people safe and healthy. Young kids might be reassured to know that hospitals and doctors are prepared to treat people who get sick. Older kids might be comforted to know that scientists are working to develop a vaccine. Kids over 2 years old can wear a mask to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These talks also help kids manage changes to their normal routine.

·       Put news stories in context. If they ask, explain that serious illness and death in kids from the virus is still rare, despite what they might hear. Watch the news with your kids so you can filter what they hear.

·       Let your kids know that it's normal to feel stressed out at times. Everyone does. Recognizing these feelings and knowing that stressful times pass, and life gets back to normal can help children build resilience.

 

Are there additional resources to help my family through the Covid-19 pandemic?  

 Yes, Here is a list of helpful websites;

·       https://selproviders.casel.org/sel-resources/

·       https://www.secondstep.org/covid19support

·       https://www.nasponline.org/

·       https://www.pbis.org/

·       https://kidshealth.org/

·       https://consciousdiscipline.com/covid19/

·       https://www.cdc.gov/

·       https://casel.org/covid-resources/

 

 

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