Many of us are feeling uneasy and anxious about COVID-19 including our young children. Besides school closures and adapting to distance learning, children are also faced with many, additional changes to their daily routines that disrupt structure and bring on stress. Thus, it is important that we continue to provide safe and supportive space for our children to share their thoughts and feelings. One way to do this is to check in with our children at least daily with a "Meet-Up" or dinner table conversation. This edition of the SEL Distance Learning Update: Family Edition includes possible topics for Meet-Ups as well as read-alouds from District Social Workers on worrying and sadness, two emotions that are likely to be common for all of us during this unprecedented time.
Additionally, this month is Mental Health Awareness Month. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness at some point during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. This is especially evident now so please see the link below for adult resources to support emotional-well being.
Exploring and Managing Emotions Part II
Identifying and Managing Worry/Stress
The COVID-19 Pandemic is an anxiety provoking time for all of us. Many of our children are still learning to identify when they are feeling worried or stressed, and how to manage these challenging emotions. The videos and resources below can help provide our children with the language and tools to work through these emotions.
What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, read by Ms. Sonia
Don't Feed the Worry Bug by Andi Green, read by Mrs. Audrey
Video on managing worries that you can watch with your children
Meet-Up/Dinner Table Conversations
- Younger children: I feel stressed/worried when _________. One thing that helps me calm down when I’m worried or stressed is ______.
- Older children: Share a time that you felt stressed or worried. What happened? How did it impact you? What would you do next time if this happened again?
Ideas for Integration throughout the Day
- Help to identify what your child is feeling and allow them a safe space to explore what they’re experiencing. If they are uncomfortable to talk about it or simply can’t find the words yet, give them alternative opportunities to express themselves and overcome their adversities (e.g., It’s looks like you are feeling (insert emotion: stressed, worried, angry, excited, silly) would you like to talk about it? I’m here for you whenever you are ready).
- Create a coping skills toolbox. Work with your child to find or make different items that help them to ground themselves and feel calm when they are stressed or worried (e.g., stress ball, slime, mandala, sketchpad, bubbles, journal, list of other coping strategies). Put them in a box and speak to your child about every item. Let them know when they are having a difficult time and they don’t feel like talking about it, they can use their “toolbox” to decompress and let go of their worries. Speak to them about times when you’ve felt stress and anxiety. Give them examples of things that helped you to feel better.
- Create a worry box. Decorate a box with your child and their favorite crafts explaining to them that it can be used to keep their worries when they aren’t able to talk about it. Have them write their worries on a piece of paper, they can write as much or as little as they want. When they are done, have them place it in the box. As a parent, you can designate a time to go over the entries with your child. Allow your child to discuss and work through their worries and fears. When they feel like the topic no longer needs to be addressed and they are at peace with it, have them rip it up and throw it away, saying goodbye to their worries.
Identifying and Managing Sadness & Grief/Loss
COVID-19 can also be a time of sadness and loss for our children. Children may feel sad about not being able to see their friends or relatives, missing out on important activities that they look forward to all year, and even the potential loss of loved ones without the typical avenues to express their grief.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, read by Mrs. Batiste
Video on sadness for our young children
Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversations
Discuss that feelings change all the time. Sometimes we feel happy and sometimes we even feel sad. If you’re sad, talking about your feelings can help. Tell your children about a situation that makes you feel sad. Ask your children to reflect on a time when they felt sad and ask them to share.
I feel sad when ______.
After exploring moments of sadness, have your children think about things they can do to feel better (talk to an adult, listen to music, play with their favorite toy).
Ideas for Integration throughout the Day
Make an Invisible String Bracelet. Gather heart beads and clear elastic thread (or any colorful beads and string you have available) to make a bracelet. Review the Invisible String read aloud and discuss. Have your child pick one bead at a time to represent people or things they are connected to that they are currently apart from. Allow your child to explore their emotions and give them reassurance that although they are apart they are still connected by an invisible string of love. Add the chosen beads to the string and tie a knot to make a bracelet. Your child can now wear the invisible string bracelet throughout the day!