A new type of coronavirus, abbreviated COVID-19, is causing an outbreak of respiratory (lung) disease. It was first detected in China and has now been detected internationally. While the immediate health risk in the United States is low, it is important to plan for any possible outbreaks if the risk level increases in the future.
Concern over this new virus can make children and families anxious. While we don’t know where and to what extent the disease may spread here in the United States, we do know that it is contagious, that the severity of illness can vary from individual to individual, and that there are steps we can take to prevent the spread of infection. Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking actions that reduce the risk of illness. Helping children cope with anxiety requires providing accurate prevention information and facts without causing undue alarm.
It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If parents seem overly worried, children’s anxiety may rise. Parents should reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. However, children also need factual, age appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk and concrete instruction about how to avoid infections and spread of disease. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.
Remain calm and reassuring.
- Children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions.
- What you say and do about COVID-19, current prevention efforts, and related events can either increase or decrease your children’s anxiety.
- If true, emphasize to your children that they and your family are fine.
- Remind them that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy.
- Let your children talk about their feelings and help reframe their concerns into the appropriate perspective.
Make yourself available.
- Children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions.
- It is important that they know they have someone who will listen to them; make time for them.
- Tell them you love them and give them plenty of affection.
Avoid excessive blaming.
- When tensions are high, sometimes we try to blame someone.
- It is important to avoid stereotyping any one group of people as responsible for the virus.
- Bullying or negative comments made toward others should be stopped and reported to the school.
- Be aware of any comments that other adults are having around your family. You may have to explain what comments mean if they are different than the values that you have at home.
Monitor television viewing and social media.
- Limit television viewing or access to information on the Internet and through social media. Try to avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting when your children are present.
- Speak to your child about how many stories about COVID-19 on the Internet may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
- Talk to your child about factual information of this disease—this can help reduce anxiety.
- Constantly watching updates on the status of COVID-19 can increase anxiety—avoid this.
- Be aware that developmentally inappropriate information (i.e., information designed for adults) can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young
- Engage your child in games or other interesting activities instead.
Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible.
- Keep to a regular schedule, as this can be reassuring and promotes physical health.
- Encourage your children to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
Be honest and accurate.
- In the absence of factual information, children often imagine situations far worse than reality.
- Don’t ignore their concerns, but rather explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with COVID-19.
- Children can be told this disease is thought to be spread between people who are in close contact with one another—when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- It is also thought it can be spread when you touch an infected surface or object, which is why it is so important to protect yourself.
- For additional factual information contact your school nurse, ask your doctor, or check the https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html website.
Know the symptoms of COVID-19.
- The CDC believes these symptoms appear in a few days after being exposed to someone with the disease or as long as 14 days after exposure:
- Shortness for breath
- For some people the symptoms are like having a cold; for others they are quite severe or even life threatening. In either case it is important to check with your child’s healthcare provider (or yours) and follow instructions about staying home or away from public spaces to prevent the spread of the virus.
Review and model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection.
- Encourage your child to practice every day good hygiene—simple steps to prevent spread of illness:
- Wash hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds (singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star slowly takes about 20 seconds).
- Cover their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw away the tissue immediately, or sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow. Do not share food or drinks.
- Practice giving fist or elbow bumps instead of handshakes. Fewer germs are spread this way.
- Giving children guidance on what they can do to prevent infection gives them a greater sense of control over disease spread and will help to reduce their anxiety.
- Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a strong immune system to fight off illness.
Discuss new rules or practices at school.
- Many schools already enforce illness prevention habits, including frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand cleansers.
- Your school nurse or principal will send information home about any new rules or practices.
- Be sure to discuss this with your child.
- Contact your school nurse with any specific questions.
Communicate with your school.
- Let your school know if your child is sick and keep them home. Your school may ask if your child has a fever or not. This information will help the school to know why your child was kept home. If your child is diagnosed with COVID-19, let the school know so they can communicate with and get guidance from local health authorities.
- Talk to your school nurse, school psychologist, school counselor, or school social worker if your child is having difficulties as a result of anxiety or stress related to COVID-19. They can give guidance and support to your child at school.
- Make sure to follow all instructions from your school.
Take Time to Talk
You know your children best. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. However, don’t avoid giving them the information that health experts identify as critical to ensuring your children’s health. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their concerns readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. It is very typical for younger children to ask a few questions, return to playing, then come back to ask more questions.When sharing information, it is important make sure to provide facts without promoting a high level of stress, remind children that adults are working to address this concern, and give children actions they can take to protect themselves.
Information is rapidly changing about this new virus—to have the most correct information stay informed by accessing https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Keep Explanations Age Appropriate
- Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and 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 take 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 will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
- Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.
Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children
- Adults at home and school are taking care of your health and safety. If you have concerns, please talk to an adult you trust.
- Not everyone will get the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. School and health officials are being especially careful to make sure as few people as possible get sick.
- It is important that all students treat each other with respect and not jump to conclusions about who may or may not have COVID-19.
- There are things you can do to stay health and avoid spreading the disease:
o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
o Stay home when you are sick.
o Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
o Wash hands often with soap and water (20 seconds).
o If you don’t have soap, use hand sanitizer (60–95% alcohol based).
o Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks, https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Talking-With-Children-Tips-for-Caregivers-Parents-and-Teachers-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/SMA14-4886
Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks, https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Coping-with-Stress-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/sma14-4885
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use at Home, at Play, and Out and About, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf
© 2020, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270
Movement breaks are brief intervals that enable all students to move their bodies and help teachers to engage learners in physical ways. Chants, poems, even Morning Meeting greetings, and activities can be used as movement breaks throughout the day.
- 5-4-3-2-1 In this simple game, students stand up and the teacher (or leader) has them do five different movements in descending order. For example the teacher would say: “Do five jumping jacks, spin around four times, hop on one foot three times, walk all the way around the classroom two times, give your neighbor one high-five (pausing in between each task for students to do it).
- Trading Places Have students stand behind their pushed-in chairs. Call out a trait, and everyone who has that trait must change places with someone else (students who do not have the trait stay where they are). Examples: “Everyone with curly hair.” “Everyone who ate cereal for breakfast.” “Everyone who is wearing stripes.”
- Six Spots Number six spots around your room from 1-6. Have students each go to a spot of their choice. Choose a student to roll a die (if you can make a big one out of foam, it adds to the fun). All the students at the number rolled must go back to their seats. Students that are left go to a new spot, and the die is rolled again. Continue until only a few students are left.
- Mingle, Mingle, Group! In this game students mill about the classroom saying, “mingle, mingle, mingle” in soft voices until the teacher says, “Groups of 5,” at which point the students must quickly group themselves into groups with the correct number of people. Students who are left over must do three jumping jacks before the next round starts. The teacher can call out any number for the group size. You can also add rules such as: as soon as a group is complete, all members must sit down in a line.
- Dance Party! Put on some rockin’ music and dance! If you can make the room semi-dark and have a black light or other special effect, your kids will love it!
- Freeze Dance! Similar to Dance Party, except that every so often the music stops, and students must freeze and hold the position they are in until the music begins again.
- Name Moves Students stand behind their chairs. In turn, each student says his or her name accompanied by a special movement. For example a student might say, “Kayla!” while dramatically dropping to one knee and doing Jazz Hands. After the student does his or her move, the rest of the class says the student’s name in unison and imitates the move. Then it is the next student’s turn.
- Keep It Up Students must keep a beach ball from hitting the ground. Add two or three balls to make it even more fun.
- Simon Says An oldie but a goody!
- Movement Songs Sing a song with whole-body movements, such as, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” “Father Abraham,” “Toe-Knee Chest-Nut,” “Shake Your Sillies Out (Raffie),” “Grand Old Duke of York,” “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,” etc.
- Recorded Movement Songs Older students might enjoy a simple Zumba routine, YMCA, or the Macarena. Littler ones will love Sesame Street’s A Very Simple Dance to Do.
- Animal Pretend Younger children will enjoy pretending to be various animals (or even objects such as lawn mowers or airplanes). Call out a few in sequence.
- Would You Rather Ask a “would you rather” question and have students show their choice by moving to one end of the room or the other. Have a few kids share why. Here are 20 free “Would You Rather” Questions to get you started.
- Find It Fast Call out a color or other trait (e.g. something round, something made of wood), and students must find an object in the room that fits the trait and get to it quickly.
- Physical Challenges Challenge students to do something physically difficult, such as standing on one foot with arms extended, or this one: Grab your nose with left hand, and grab your left earlobe with your right hand, and then quickly switch so that your right hand is on your nose and your left hand is grabbing your right earlobe. Yoga poses could also be a good variation.
- Plates Give each student a paper plate. Students must walk around the room balancing the plates on their heads. If a student drops his or her plate, the student must freeze until another student picks it up and places it back on the student’s head (while keeping his or her own plate in place, of course).
- Line Up! Have students line up using a specific criteria, such as age (use day and month, not just year), height, alphabetically by middle name, hair length, etc.
- Limbo All you need is a long stick and a pair of kids to hold it. Music is nice, too.
- Human Knot Divide students into groups of about eight students. Have students each grab right hands with someone who is not directly next to them. Then do the same with left hands. The challenge is to untangle and become a circle without releasing hands.
- Jump Skip Counting Have students count by twos, fives, tens etc. while jumping with each count. You could also practice spelling words this way.
Videos from GoNoodle are great!
GoNoodle videos get kids moving to be their strongest, bravest, silliest, smartest, bestest selves. Over 14 million kids each month are dancing, stretching, running, jumping, deep breathing, and wiggling with GoNoodle.
For Teachers: 3 out of 4 elementary schools in the US use GoNoodle to: – Give students the brain breaks they need – Host indoor recess – Make subject transitions seamless – Energize or calm their class
Create a free account on GoNoodle.com now and find hundreds of ways to move! — https://goo.gl/fA6qK3
Videos from Stand Up Kids
LEARN TO SQUAT
MAKE IT RAIN
CROCODILES & CRABS
SHAKE THE WIGGLES OUT
FAST FEET & HIGH JUMPS
BLOCKED SQUAT & GRASSHOPPERS
ONE LEGGED HOPS & PLANKS
AIR SQUAT & RUN IN PLACE
Pogo Jumps & Lunges
Pushups & Spins
Blocked Squats & Backpack Chair Deadlifts
Floppies & Planks
Push Press & Tuck Jumps
- Keep physical activity breaks short and manageable. Shoot for 1 – 5 minute breaks at least 2-3 times per day.
- Participate with your students in the activity. Students will be more likely to join in and have fun if they see their school community moving with them.
- Ask teachers and school administrators to share and demonstrate their favorite activities, games, and movement ideas during staff meetings throughout the school year.
- Create a classroom atmosphere that embraces movement! Consider playing age and culturally appropriate music. Be patient – it may take some time for kids to embrace and be comfortable with the physical activity.
- Integrate physical activity into academic concepts when possible. For example, a social studies unit on the Olympics can include student participation in classroom energizers fitting into an Olympic theme.
- Encourage your physical education teacher to be a movement leader and advocate. Ask if he or she can share some simple motor skills and games for classroom teachers and guidance for creating safe movement spaces.
- Empower students by asking them to share their own physical activity break ideas. Provide opportunities for students to lead and demonstrate activities.
- Add physical activity breaks right into your daily schedule. Try creating a classroom physical activity calendar of events that includes a variety of ideas throughout the month. Use a classroom physical activity tracker to help your students reach 10 minutes daily! Check out these brain break for testing ideas.
- Add in fun equipment items such as beanbags, spot markers, yoga mats, and balance boards. Consider applying for a Game On grant!
- Integrate health and fitness concepts while moving with students to emphasize the importance of daily physical activity and good nutrition.
Action-Packed Classrooms, K-5: Using Movement to Educate and Invigorate Learners (2009)
- by Cathie Summerford (Link)
- “Focusing on using movement and music to energize young students and boost their learning, this research-based book offers strategies for basic energizers, clear objectives for standards-aligned instruction, and a student/teacher/principal agreement to commit to active learning.” – Amazon
Brain Breaks for the Classroom: Quick and Easy Breathing and Movement Activities That Help Students Reenergize, Refocus, and Boost Brain Power-Anytime of the Day! (2009)
- by Michelle Gay (Link)
- “40 fun exercises help students take a quick break and return to their work refreshed and ready to learn. Each exercise is designed to get more oxygen and energy to students’ brains, improve their focus, and calm their nervous systems. The result: increased motivation, cooperation, and learning in the classroom. Includes a full-color poster with five easy moves all kids can do when they need a ‘brain break’! For use with Grades K–5.” – Amazon
Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition (2010)
- by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison (Link)
- “This is a stand-alone book for parents, teachers and learners who want in-depth descriptions and variations for the 26 Brain Gym activities.” – Amazon
Energizing Brain Breaks (2009)
- by David U. Sladkey (Link)
Energizing Brain Breaks 2 (2011)
- by Scott Miller (Link)
The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement (2010)
- by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala (Link)
- “Research shows that regular physical activity helps children perform better in school. This inspiring book illustrates how to integrate movement within classroom instruction, ranging from short activity breaks to curriculum-enhancing games.” – Amazon
Learning on Your Feet: Incorporating Physical Activity into the K-8 Classroom (2016)
- by Brad Johnson and Melody Jones (Link)
- “In this much-needed book, you’ll learn how incorporating physical activity into the classroom can improve students’ engagement, achievement, and overall wellness. Students typically spend most of the day sitting at their desks, and many don’t have recess or PE, yet research shows that regular exercise helps stimulate brain function and improve skills such as reading, critical thinking, organization, and focus.” – Amazon
Moving INTO the Classroom (2018)
- Stacia Miller and Suzanne Lindt, Eds (Link)
- This textbook focuses on research in movement integration and the benefits of physical activity to the child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. It includes research on and suggestions for integrating movement into English-language arts, mathematics, science and social studies for lower and upper elementary students. Though the textbook is specifically aimed at elementary-level teachers, secondary teachers and pre-service teachers can modify the activities to fit their lessons as well. – Springer
- by Jill Johnstone and Molly Ramon (Link)
- “…blueprint for improving perceptual-motor skills—the skills that require young learners to use their brains and their bodies together to accomplish tasks. When kids improve these skills, they not only improve their coordination and increase their body awareness but they also enhance their intellectual skills and gain a more positive self-image.” – Human Kinetics
Physical Activity and Educational Achievement: Insights from Exercise Neuroscience (2018)
- edited by Romain Meeusen, Sabine Schaefer, Phillip Tomporowski, and Richard Bailey (Link)
- “A growing body of research evidence suggests that physical activity can have a positive effect on educational achievement. This book examines a range of processes associated with physical activity that are of relevance to those working in education – including cognition, learning, memory, attention, mood, stress and mental health symptoms – and draws on the latest insights from exercise neuroscience to help explain the evidence.” – Amazon
Physical Activity and Health Promotion in the Early Years (2018)
- edited by Hannah Brewer and Mary Renck Jalongo (Link)
- “This book…provides a theoretical base explaining why physical activity is important, and offers practical strategies for increasing health and well-being in early childhood settings. It takes ancient wisdom on the mind and body connection, applies it to the youngest children, and supports it with current empirical and international evidence—all with an eye toward improving wellness across the lifespan. The many topics discussed in the book include children’s motor skills, movement, interaction, physical literacy, the use of video games, dog ownership, developmental delays, as well as strategies to improve physical activities in the classroom and broader contexts.”
Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008)
- by John J. Ratey (Link)
- “Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.” – Amazon
Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2005) – chap. 9: Movement and Learning
- by Eric Jensen (Link)
- “…[this] best-seller is loaded with ideas for how to improve student achievement and create a more effective classroom by applying brain research to your teaching. [It] translates the latest scientific findings into effective instructional strategies…” – Amazon
The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning (2010)
- by OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design (Link)
- “Created by an international team of architects and designers concerned about our failing education system, [this book] explores the critical link between the school environment and how children learn…” – Amazon
The day after the mass shooting occurred in Florida many kids were talking about the massacre. They were asking a variety of questions like, “Will that happen to us at our school?” or simply “Am I safe at school?” As educators, parents, and community members we have an obligation to know what to say to our kids. This post will review what the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) recommends.
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.
- Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
- Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
- Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
- Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
- Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
- Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
- Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
- Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children
- Schools are safe places. School staff works with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.
The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).
- We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
- There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
- Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and probability that it will affect you (our school community).
- Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
- Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
- Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.
NASP has additional information for parents and educators on school safety, violence prevention, children’s trauma reactions, and crisis response at www.nasponline.org.
The handout, Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers is available in the following languages:
Death is that inevitable phenomenon that no one really cares to talk about, especially with your children. As we go through life death often pops up when we least expect it. This post is dedicated to resources to support your efforts in guiding your child through the tough process of death of a loved one.
Here are some things you can do to help you express your feelings.
Activity 1: finish the sentences
Finish the following sentences.
The thing that makes me feel the saddest is …..
If I could talk to the person who died I would ask….
Since the death my family doesn’t….
My worst memory is….
If I could change things I would….
One thing that I liked to do with the person who died was…
When the person died I….
Since the death my friends….
After the death, school….
When I am alone….
Is there anyone you want to share this with?
Activity 2: drawing
Find a piece of paper and fold it in half. On one side, draw a picture of your family before the death. On the other side, draw a picture of your family after the death. You might want to share your picture with someone who would understand.
Sesame Street Materials-
- Storybook (2.1mb PDF)
Curl up with this printable book, starring your child’s favorite characters: Elmo and Jessie.
- Caring Cards (631kb PDF)
Have these cards on hand when you need a conversation starter, an activity idea, or just a little inspiration.
- Memory Chain (709kb PDF)
Connect all your favorite memories—our paper chain template shows you how.
2.The Invisible String (kids 3+)
3. Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Reading Rainbow) (kids 5-8)
4. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (kids 6-9)
5. I’ll Always Love You (kids 3-7)
8. The Saddest Time (kids 6-9)
9. Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss (kids 8+)
11. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying (kids 4+)
12. Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss (kids 4-8)
14. The Scar (kids5-9)
15. A Terrible Thing Happened (kids 4+)
17. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad (kids 4+)
21. Someone I Love Died (kids 4-8)
22. What Happened When Grandma Died? (kids 4+)
23. Always and Forever (kids 4+)
24. Badger’s Parting Gifts (kids 4-8)
25. Ghost Wings (kids 5+)
27. The Grandpa Tree (kids 3+)
29. Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins) (kids 4-8)
30. Daddy, Up and Down: Sisters Grieve the Loss of Their Daddy (kids 4-8)
31. Saying Goodbye to Daddy (kids 4+)
33. Where’s Jess: For Children Who Have a Brother or Sister Die (kids 3-6)
34. A Taste of Blackberries (kids 8-12)
35. Bridge to Terabithia (kids 8-12)
36. My Grandson Lew (kids 4-6)
37. Aarvy Aardvark Finds Hope: A Read Aloud Story for People of All Ages About Loving and Losing, Friendship and Hope (as the title says, people of all ages!)
38. The Empty Place: A Child’s Guide Through Grief (Let’s Talk)(kids 5-10)
39. Dancing on the Moon (kids 3+)
40. Lost and Found: Remembering a Sister (kids 6+)
41. Stacy Had a Little Sister (A Concept Book) (kids 4+)
43. Goodbye Mousie (kids 4-8)
44. Remembering Crystal (kids 3+)
45. Rudi’s Pond (kids 5-8)
46. The Memory String (kids 4-8)
47. Sammy in the Sky (kids 4-8)
48. Where Do People Go When They Die? (kids 3-8)
49. Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories (kids 3-8)
50. Her Mother’s Face (kids 4-8)
51. Remembering Mama (kids 4+)
52. Old Pig (Picture Puffin)(kids 3-8)
53. Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa (kids 3-7)
54. Saying Goodbye to Lulu(kids 3-6)
55. The Mountains of Tibet(kids 7+)
56. Rabbityness (kids 3-7)
58. Can You Hear Me Smiling?: A Child Grieves a Sister (kids 8+)
59. The Copper Tree (kids 5-8)
60. Everybody Feels Sad (kids 4+)
61. Grief is Like a Snowflake (kids 4+)
63. Ladder to the Moon (kids 4-8)
64. Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement (kids 3-8).
Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement program for youth grieving the death of a significant person in their lives.
Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.
Camp Erin is offered in every Major League Baseball city as well as additional locations across the U.S. and Canada. The Moyer Foundation partners with hospices and bereavement organizations to bring hope and healing to thousands of grieving children and teens each year
APA suggests these tips to help parents effectively manage holiday stress
- Strengthen social connections – We know that strong, supportive relationships help us manage all kinds of challenges. So, we can view the holidays as a time to reconnect with the positive people in our lives. Accepting help and support from those who care about us can help alleviate stress. Also, volunteering at a local charity on our own or with family can be another way to make connections; helping others often makes us feel better, too.
- Initiate conversations about the season – It can be helpful to have conversations with our kids about the variety of different holiday traditions our families, friends and others may celebrate. Parents can use this time as an opportunity to discuss how some families may not participate in the same holiday traditions as others. Not everyone needs to be the same. It is important to teach open-mindedness about others and their celebrations.
- Set expectations – It is helpful to set realistic expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Depending on a child’s age, we can use this opportunity to teach kids about the value of money and responsible spending. We need to remember to pare down our own expectations, too. Instead of trying to take on everything, we need to identify the most important holiday tasks and take small concrete steps to accomplish them.
- Keep things in perspective – On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. We can ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen this holiday? Our greatest fears may not happen and, if they do, we can tap our strengths and the help of others to manage them. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.
- Take care of yourself – It is important that we pay attention to our own needs and feelings during the holiday season. We can find fun, enjoyable and relaxing activities for ourselves and our families. By keeping our minds and bodies healthy, we are primed to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Consider cutting back television viewing for kids and getting the family out together for fresh air and a winter walk. Physical activity can help us feel better and sleep well, while reducing sedentary time and possible exposure to stress-inducing advertisements. Source
Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.
Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.
For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely. Source
Step by step guide for parents and teachers: Trichotillomania Basics
Parent Support Resources from The TLC Foundation: For Parents
Teen Guide: What Is Trichotillomania?
School Based article: Trichotillomania: Dealing With Hair-Pulling Disorder
Article- Child Trichsters And School
A few months ago I wrote a post called, “Check your Stress!” While it had some good tools to identify whether or not you were stressed, getting to the mindset of self care is something I have observed many parents and teachers avoid even if they realize it is affecting their work and happiness. Here are a few resources out there.
Write about it
Some measures of Stress and Burn out
Ted Talk Videos
Recently, my little girl started in a home daycare. Initially, she struggled with separation anxiety. She has since settled down (whew!). This post has some good pointers on Separation Anxiety.
Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten
Understanding school refusal
-A child may exhibit each behavior on this spectrum at different times
Common symptoms that could signal school refusal behavior
|INTERNALIZING/COVERT SYMPTOM||EXTERNALIZING/OVERT SYMPTOM|
|Fatigue/tiredness||Clinging to an adult|
|Fear and panic||Excessive reassurance-seeking behavior|
|General and social anxiety||Noncompliance and defiance|
|Self-consciousness||Refusal to move in the morning|
|Somatization||Running away from school or home|
|Worry||Temper tantrums and crying|
Dealing With Separation Anxiety In Teens
Criteria for Differential Diagnosis of School Refusal and Truancy
Severe emotional distress about attending school; may include anxiety, temper tantrums, depression, or somatic symptoms.
Lack of excessive anxiety or fear about attending school.
Parents are aware of absence; child often tries to persuade parents to allow him or her to stay home.
Child often attempts to conceal absence from parents.
Absence of significant antisocial behaviors such as juvenile delinquency.
Frequent antisocial behavior, including delinquent and disruptive acts (e.g., lying, stealing), often in the company of antisocial peers.
During school hours, child usually stays home because it is considered a safe and secure environment.
During school hours, child frequently does not stay home.
Child expresses willingness to do schoolwork and complies with completing work at home.
Lack of interest in schoolwork and unwillingness to conform to academic and behavior expectations.
How parents can help children at home
There are things parents can do to help children and adolescents learn to manage their anxious feelings. Parent support plays a key role in helping kids learn to cope independently. Try these strategies at home to help your child succeed outside of the home:
-Make a plan to help your child transition to school in the morning (arrive early, act as the teacher’s helper before the other kids arrive, get some exercise on the playground before the bell rings)
-Help your child reframe anxious thoughts by coming up with a list of positive thoughts (it even helps to write these on cards and put them in the backpack)
-Write daily lunchbox notes that include positive phrases
-Avoid overscheduling. Focus on playtime, downtime, and healthy sleep habits
-Alert your child to changes in routine ahead of time
-Empathize with your child and comment on progress made
– Teach relaxation strategies
Kids need to learn a variety of tools to use when feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It’s nearly impossible to use adaptive coping strategies when you’re dealing with intense physical symptoms of anxiety, so the first step is with work on learning to calm the anxious response.
- Deep breathing is the best way to calm rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and feeling dizzy. Teach your child to visualize blowing up a balloon while engaging the diaphragm in deep breathing. Count your child out to help slow the breathing (4 in, 4 hold, 4 out).
- Guided imagery: Your child can take a relaxing adventure in her mind while engaging in deep breathing. Tell a quick story in a low and even voice to help your child find her center.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Anxious kids tend to tense their muscles when they’re under stress. Teach your child to relax her muscles and release tension beginning with her hands and arms. Make a fist and hold it tight for five seconds, then slowly release. Move on to the arms, neck and shoulders, and feet and legs.
– Teach cognitive reframing
Kids with social anxiety disorder are often overwhelmed by negative beliefs that reinforce their anxious thoughts. Their beliefs tend to fall into the following categories:
- Assuming the worst case scenario
- Believing that others see them through a negative lens
Teach your child to recognize negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. If your child tends to say things like, “My teacher thinks I’m stupid because I’m bad at reading,” help him recognize the negative thought, ground it in reality (a teacher’s job is to help kids learn not judge them on what they already know), and replace it with a positive thought (“I’m having a hard time reading but my teacher will help me get better.”)
– Teach problem-solving skills
Children with social anxiety disorders tend to become masters of avoidance. They do what they can to avoid engaging in situations that cause the most anxiety. While this might seem like the path of least resistance, it can actually make the social anxiety worse over time.
Teach your child to work through feelings of fear and anxiety by developing problem-solving skills. If a child fears public speaking, for example, she can learn to practice several times at home in front of a mirror, have someone videotape her and watch it back, find the friendly face in the room and make eye contact, and use deep breathing to calm anxious feelings.
Help your child identify her triggers and brainstorm potential problem-solving strategies to work through those triggers.
– Work on friendship skills
While you can’t make friends for your child, you can help your child practice friendship skills. Practice these skills using role play and modeling to help your child feel at ease with peers:
- Sliding in and out of groups
- Conversation starters
- Listening and responding
- Asking follow up questions/making follow up statements
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
When I Miss You by Cornelia Spelman
If things progress-
How to get help for your child
The best treatment to help children struggling with school refusal includes a team approach. While children tend to focus on what they don’t like or worry about at school, the truth is that the underlying issues can include stress at home, social stress, and medical issues (a child who struggles with asthma, for example, might experience excessive worry about having an asthma attack at school). It helps to have a strong team that includes the classroom teacher, family, a school psychologist (if available), and any specialist working with the child outside of school.
- Assess: The first step is a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation. Given that school refusal is generally related to an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder, it’s important to get to the root of the problem and begin there. This will likely include both family and teacher questionnaires or interviews.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This highly structured form of therapy helps children identify their maladaptive thought patterns and learn adaptive replacement behaviors. Children learn to confront and work through their fears.
- Systemic desensitization: Some children struggling with school refusal need a graded approach to returning to school. They might return for a small increment of time and gradually build upon it.
- Relaxation training: This is essential for children struggling with anxiety. Deep breathing, guided imagery, and mindfulness are all relaxation strategies that kids can practice at home and utilize in school.
- Re-entry plan: The treatment team creates a plan to help the student re-enter the classroom. Younger children might benefit from arriving early and helping the teacher in the classroom or helping at the front desk. The plan also includes contingencies to help the student during anxious moments throughout the day (i.e., using fidget toys, taking a brain break to color, a walk outside with a teacher’s aide, etc.)
- Routine and structure: Anxious children benefit from predictable home routines. Avoid over-scheduling, as this can increase stress for anxious kids, and put specific morning and evening routines in place.
- Sleep: Sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also makes it difficult to get up and out to school in the morning. Establish healthy sleep habits and keep a regular sleep cycle, even during holidays and on the weekends.
- Peer buddy: Consider requesting a peer buddy for recess, lunch, and other less structured periods as anxiety can spike during these times.
- Social skills training: Many students who struggle with making and keeping friends feel overwhelmed in the school environment. Social skills groups can help kids learn to relate to their peers and feel comfortable in larger groups.
There isn’t a quick fix for school refusal. You might see periods of growth only to experience significant setbacks following school vacations or multiple absences due to physical illness. Acknowledge your child’s difficulty, engage in open and honest communication about it, empathize with your child, and pile on the unconditional love and support.
Some of our students who’s parents are migrant farm workers are preparing to go back to Mexico over the Winter School break. Some of our students may encounter an event that could cause undo stress and trauma. This post is gear towards gaining understanding around how to support trauma at school.
Undocumented immigrant children and youth are frequently subject to particularly traumatic experiences, including racial profiling, ongoing discrimination, exposure to gangs, immigration raids, the arbitrary checking of family members’ documentation status, forcible removal or separation from their families, placement in detention camps or in child welfare, and deportation. Source
Teachers are also affected by the stress of some of the fall out that occurs in migration and immigration issues. Here is a quick conclusion to a recent study of those who work with migrant immigrants.
” Although there is an increased interest regarding factors that contribute to immigrants’ mental health, little attention has been given to the psychological needs of Mexican immigrants affected by deportation. Research focused on this population is necessary in order to better understand and generate appropriate interventions for working with Mexican immigrants affected by deportation. Similarly, experiences of professionals with a history of working with this population may identify potential challenges and provide recommendations for working with this population. Furthermore, it is important that educators and mental health training programs offer additional training in multiculturalism to those students interested in working with this population.”
- ¿Qué es depresión? (Plain Language – Depression)
- La Salud Mental (Mental Health and You)
- Lista de los Síntomas de la Depresión Clinica (Depression Checklist)
- Lista de Referencia Para Estrés (Stress Checklist)
Great New York Times Article: Anxiety In-Depth Report
Stress Reduction Activities: Stress Reduction Activities
How Parents Can Help Their Children: Article
Transition to Middle School: Article
Anxiety: Teen Workbook