Making mental health a priority: Sheri Bell-Beyer
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Pioneer School District is making every effort to assist families during the COVID-19 emergency. This emergency is unlike anything we have ever seen before in our lifetime. Information is everywhere and being updated and changed rapidly. As adults we are trying to understand and follow new recommendations as they change to keep our families safe and healthy. Much has been said about how to keep each of us physically safe. This crisis, however, is not only about how to keep our selves healthy physically, but also how to keep ourselves healthy emotionally. This emergency will cause all of us to experience a variety of emotional reactions. These emotions can change over time depending on the information we are receiving and how it is effecting us personally.
Children will also have emotional reactions to what is happening in their world as they are trying to make sense of how the adults are reacting and how their world is changing. Many of us may be wondering how to talk with children about what is happening and how to help them with their emotional reaction. The following are suggestions as to how to assist children in managing their emotions during this emergency.
Remain calm. Children react to what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues as to how you talk with them and others.
Make time to talk. Reassure your children they can come to you if they have questions.
Be aware of what children see or hear on media about COVID-19. Consider reducing screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information can increase anxiety.
Provide information that is accurate and honest. Share information that is age/developmentally appropriate for the needs of your child. Let children know not all information shared on the media is accurate and some information may be based on rumors.
Teach children everyday actions that can reduce the spread of germs. Explain social distancing and model this for them. Stay six feet away from others in public. Stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. If they cough or sneeze, do so into their elbow or use a tissue and then throw it our. Get children into hand washing habits. (Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Wash after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose. Wash after using the bathroom. Wash before preparing food and eating.) Supervise small children with hand washing. Model hand washing for your children. Remember, WASH, WASH, WASH.
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. Supervise small children in their use of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol.
If your children or any family members continue to struggle with their emotional reaction during this time of emergency, please know Pioneer counseling staff, at all buildings, are available to your family by telephone. Please do not hesitate in contacting Pioneer staff if you have concerns or questions so we can help your family with specific needs. Staff members are checking their school voicemails and emails twice daily from their homes.
I hope this information has been helpful. Remember emotional reactions can occur at any time, so continue to check in with your children over time even if they are not showing or saying they have concerns.
Stay healthy and safe. We will get through this together. PiONEer Strong!
Sheri Bell-Beyer, LCSW
Arcade Elementary School Social Worker