Helping Children Cope with Covid
"The Most Stressful Time Ever" reads the title of an article put out by The Guardian on how coronavirus affects the mental health of children. Children are anxious and depressed and feel a great deal of uncertainty about the future.
"A generation of children and teenagers in the US who were born under the specter of international terrorism, raised during an economic recession and educated under the threat of near-constant school shootings is facing yet another trauma: a pandemic that’s already racked up a devastating body count and completely upended their lives."
The numbers are staggering, at the least 55.1 million students have been impacted by school closures during the pandemic. This is about 97% of all public and private school students in the US, according to Education Week.
Some schools have offered virtual classes that are consistent with a regular school days, others have offered a few virtual sessions a week and still others have done nothing. The achievement gap is widening and so is the income gap. Millions of children are falling behind with a very tenuous grip on an academic future.
Schools are trying, but are faced with great uncertainty. How do they best meet the academic, emotional, social and health needs of their students?
The most stressful time ever’: how coronavirus affects children’s mental health
Alexandra Villarreal in New York
Fri 17 Apr 2020
Helping Children Cope
The list is endless. Children can be impacted by trauma because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tragic accident, crime, terrorism, natural disasters, family conflict, poverty. The effects can be catastrophic and undermine a child's sense of wellbeing and safety. When children feel the have no control they lose hope and can display behavior issues or shut down and display no emotion at all. Traumatic stress is lethal and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can result and mar a child forever. Even if kids are not directly in the path of disaster, watching someone else go through it can be devastating.
What can we do as parents and as teachers?
First, let's look for the signs and symptoms that a child is traumatized. With the start of school and the whole host of school options available to kids, this trauma can be enhanced by uncertainty.
Signs of Trauma in Kids and Teens
Infants under age 2 may:
Fuss more or be harder to soothe
Exhibit changes in sleep or eating patterns
Children age 2 to 5 may:
Show signs of fear
Cling to parent or caregiver more
Cry, scream, or whine
Move aimlessly or freeze up
Regress to earlier childhood behaviors, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
Children age 6 to 11 may:
Lose interest in friends, family, or activities they used to enjoy
Experience nightmares or other sleep problems
Become moody, disruptive, or angry
Struggle with school and homework
Complain of physical problems such as headaches or stomachaches
Develop unfounded fears
Feel depressed, emotionally numb, or guilty over what happened
Adolescents age 12 to 17 may:
Have flashbacks to the event, suffer from nightmares or other sleep problems
Avoid reminders of the event
Abuse alcohol, drugs, or nicotine products
Act disruptive, disrespectful, or aggressive
Complain of physical ailments
Feel isolated, guilty, or depressed
Lose interest in hobbies and interests
Have suicidal thoughts
When to seek treatment for your child’s trauma
Usually, your child’s feelings of anxiety, numbness, confusion, guilt, and despair following a crisis, disaster, or other traumatic event will start to fade within a relatively short time. However, if the traumatic stress reaction is so intense that it interferes with your child’s ability to function at school or home—or if the symptoms don’t begin to fade or even become worse over time—they may need help from a mental health professional.
When traumatic stress symptoms don’t ease up and your child’s nervous system remains “stuck,” unable to move on from the event for a prolonged period of time, they may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Warning signs include:
Six weeks have passed, and your child is not feeling any better
Your child is having trouble functioning at school
Your child is experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
The symptoms of traumatic stress manifest as physical complaints such as headaches, stomach pains, or sleep disturbances
Your child is having an increasingly difficult time relating to friends and family
Your child or teen is experiencing suicidal thoughts
Your child is avoiding more and more things that remind them of the traumatic event
In the schools, teachers can turn to counselors, social workers, psychologists, consultants and mental health professionals that specialize in treating trauma.
Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events
Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: April 2020
Tips for Helping Children After the Event
Make your child feel safe. All children, from toddlers to teens, will benefit from your touch—extra cuddling, hugs or just a reassuring pat on the back. It gives them a feeling of security, which is so important in the aftermath of a frightening or disturbing event. For specific information on what to do and say, see the age-by-age-guide.
Act calm. Children look to adults for reassurance after traumatic events have occurred. Do not discuss your anxieties with your children, or when they are around, and be aware of the tone of your voice, as children quickly pick up on anxiety.
Maintain routines as much as possible. Amidst chaos and change, routines reassure children that life will be okay again. Try to have regular mealtimes and bedtimes. If
you are homeless or temporarily relocated, establish new routines, and stick with the same family rules, such as ones about good behavior.
Help children enjoy themselves. Encourage kids to do activities and play with others. The distraction is good for them, and gives them a sense of normalcy.
Share information about what happened. It’s always best to learn the details of a traumatic event from a safe, trusted adult. Be brief and honest, and allow children to ask questions. Don’t presume kids are worrying about the same things as adults.
Pick good times to talk. Look for natural openings to have a discussion.
Prevent or limit exposure to news coverage. This is especially critical with toddlers and school-age children, as seeing disturbing events recounted on TV or in the newspaper or listening to them on the radio can make them seem to be ongoing. Children who believe bad events are temporary can more quickly recover from them.
Understand that children cope in different ways. Some might want to spend extra time with friends and relatives; some might want to spend more time alone. Let your child know it is normal to experience anger, guilt and sadness, and to express things in different ways—for example, a person may feel sad but not cry.
Listen well. It is important to understand how your child views the situation, and what is confusing or troubling to him or her. Do not lecture—just be understanding. Let kids know it is OK to tell you how they are feeling at any time.
Help children relax with breathing exercises. Breathing becomes shallow when anxiety sets in; deep belly breaths can help children calm down. You can hold a feather or a wad of cotton in front of your child’s mouth and ask him to blow at it, exhaling slowly. Or you can say, “Let’s breathe in slowly while I count to three, then breathe out while I count to three.” Place a stuffed animal or pillow on your child’s belly as he lies down and ask him to breathe in and out slowly and watch the stuffed animal or pillow rise and fall.
Acknowledge what your child is feeling. If a child admits to a concern, do not respond, “Oh, don’t be worried,” because he may feel embarrassed or criticized. Simply confirm what you are hearing: “Yes, I can see that you are worried.”
Know that it’s okay to answer, “I don’t know.” What children need most is someone whom they trust to listen to their questions, accept their feelings, and be there for them. Don’t worry about knowing exactly the right thing to say — after all, there is no answer that will make everything okay.
Child Mind Institute
Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event
Examining: Helping Students Overcome Depression & Anxiety
(3cr hrs) Starts August 12th...Ends October 9th
Helping Students Overcome Depression and Anxiety is a 3 credit course, that focuses on how educators, counselors, social workers, psychologists and other behavioral/emotional support personnel in the schools can help children with anxiety and depression. Participants will learn about internalizing behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, and what techniques are best for dealing with them.
The course is organized into 4 Modules and is presented in a modified, self-paced format. Participants are encouraged to access the course regularly and make reasonable progress, but there are no due dates attached to individual assignments. Instead there are 2 absolute due dates (mid-term and the last day of class) to provide flexibility and to better accommodate participants' busy schedules.The length of time each Module should take to complete varies from approximately 20 to 30 hrs. Lessons will be taught using a combination of readings, external resources, examples, discussion forums, activities, assignment, and enrichment materials. The instructor will monitor all forum discussions and offer feedback and coaching on assignments.
By the end of the course, participants will:
1. Understand internalizing disorders and how they develop
2. Understand the impact internalizing disorders have on self-esteem, academic performance, and social relationships
3.Understand the impact of internalizing disorders on substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and chronic mental health problems
4. Understand how internalizing disorders are assessed
5. Understand the role of cognitive behavioral therapies in the treatment and intervention of depression & anxiety
6. Be able to apply cognitive behavioral strategies & techniques to help children & adolescents with internalizing disorders
1. What internalizing problems are and how they develop
2. Assessing internalizing disorders
3. Depression prevention and comprehensive interventions
4. Depression interventions and cognitive therapies
5. Behavioral interventions and conflict resolution training for depression
6. Treating anxiety with systematic desensitization
7. Behavioral interventions for treating anxiety
8. Understanding medications and making referrals
9. Developing cognitive-behavioral plans of intervention for classroom
Helping Students Overcome Depression and Anxiety, 2nd Ed. (2008) by Kenneth W. Merrell
Get Ready to Start a New Fall School Adventure
August Classes Start on the 12th
Engaging Troubling Students: A Constructivist Approach
Course Dates: August 12th to October 9th
(Registration is open!)
This is a 3 credit hour course based on the book Engaging Troubling Students by Danforth and Smith that offers instructional and student support practices grounded in critical constructivism--engaging problematic students in the learning process and building strong relationships with them. These interactions and relationships can have a profound impact on their emotional well-being and learning. Participants will begin by investigating the history and roots of current issues and dilemmas and examining the theoretical foundation of critical constructivism. Then, building on this knowledge, participants will learn teaching practices designed to foster the teacher-student relationship, specific programs addressing conflict, families, inclusive education, and more.
This course is divided into 3 Modules and presented in a modified, self-paced format. Participants are encouraged to access the course regularly and make reasonable progress, but there are no due dates attached to individual assignments. Instead there are 2 absolute due dates (mid-term and the last day of class) to provide flexibility and to better accommodate participants' busy schedules. In addition to the text, course objectives will be met using a combination of examples, discussion forums, forum activities, and tests. The instructor will offer feedback and coaching in forums.
By the end of the course, participants will...
1. Understand constructivism
2. Understand and be able to teach the eight themes of caring
3. Understand group dynamics
4. Understand how to engage in reflective teaching and mentoring
5. Understand the seven principles of problem-solving negotiations
6. Understand how to deal with parents
7. Understand how to prepare students with behavior problems
8. Understand how to nurture the self
Engaging Troubling Students: A Constructivist Approach (2004 or 2005) by Scot Danforth and Terry Jo Smith
Examining: How the Brain Influences Behavior
(3cr hrs) Starts August 12th...Ends October 9th
This is a 3 credit hour course based on the book How the Brain Influences Behavior by David A. Sousa (2009). This course looks at the latest brain research and how it applies to student behavior. Participants will first investigate the social-emotional brain and the underlying causes of misbehavior. Then participants will learn strategies for improving attitudes, relationships, impulsive and oppositional behaviors and classroom climate, in order to improve student behavior and increase student achievement.
The course is organized into 6 Modules and presented in a modified, self-paced format. Participants are encouraged to access the course regularly and make reasonable progress, but there are no due dates attached to individual assignments. Instead there are 2 absolute due dates (mid-term and the last day of class) to provide flexibility and to better accommodate participants' busy schedules. The length of time each Module should take to complete varies from approximately 15 to 30 hrs. Lessons will be taught using a combination of readings, videos, external resources, examples, discussion forums, and discussion activities. The discussion forums, assignments and reflections will allow participants to utilize and put into practice the theory that they have learned. Students will receive coaching and feedback on their discussions, assignments and reflections from the instructors as these activities are completed.
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This is a confusing time for children as they are forced to stay home amidst the pandemic. They can't see friends, share hugs and kisses or go to school. Fall has many options that may or may not work for them and the future is uncertain.
These books help children cope and make sense of the nonsensical.
What is Social Distancing?: A Children's Guide & Activity Book Paperback –
Lindsey Coker Luckey
March 31, 2020
Paula and the Pandemic Paperback – March 30, 2020
A Little SPOT Stays Home: A Story About Viruses And Safe Distancing Paperback – April 25, 2020
by Diane Alber
Are you taking care of yourself?
We have heard from our students, their parents, our colleagues, our friends and family and we know it ourselves. We are under a tremendous amount of stress. We worry about going back to school. We worry about not going back to school. We don't eat or we eat too much, we don't sleep and we don't take good care of ourselves. Sound familiar?
YOU ARE STRESSED!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Take a class from us on how to deal with fatigue and stress.
EXPRESS: I'm So Tired! An Educator's Guide to Self-Care
(3cr hrs) Starts August 12th...Ends September 25th
EXPRESS: I'm So Stressed! Mindfulness & Meditation for Teachers & Students
(3cr hrs) Starts August 12th...Ends September 25th
Tips for Beating Stress
Practice yoga! There are many online sites that will provide you with yoga techniques and programs.
Studies show that even 15 minutes of exercise daily can have a very positive impact on our mental and physical health.
Go easy on the caffeine. Try Herbal Teas.
The National Institute of Mental Health provides a wealth of information on the Covid 19 and how to help children cope with its impacts.
Journal; write down your thoughts.
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6 week Iowa License Renewal Courses
8-9 week courses that can be taken for Iowa License Renewal or EDMA Graduate Credit
Visit our website to learn more and register for upcoming classes
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Online Professional Development Classes
All classes start August 12th! Get the credits you need with modified, self-paced courses flexible enough to fit any teacher's busy schedule.