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How to Talk to Your Child About COVID-19

Written and Compiled by Elise Hanson and Cindy Lund - North Sanpete School District

Note: The YouTube links will not work on District-owned student devices due to our safe search filtering. Privately-owned devices will access the links just fine.

During this time, with Covid-19 concerns, many parents wonder how to talk to their children in a way that will be reassuring and not cause unnecessary worry. For expert advice refer to the following video links.
https://www.fox13now.com/news/national-news/coronavirus/local-psychologist-gives-advice-on-how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhVad8ToCiU&feature=emb_share&fbclid=IwAR0lhUqBjF0G7qtkC9Q0QoN80MtIA6KjqrkUueZMzYZZVr4oB_Qcji8dpJ4

The CDC has also provided helpful guidelines for talking to your child. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html

PBS has compiled videos from their children’s programming to teach about germs and healthy habits.                                          
 
https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus

Help for ANXIETY
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”                                     
 --Fred Rogers

Encourage your children to focus on the good that’s happening every day, especially in times of uncertainty. Write down three gratitudes daily and share. Exercise, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water. Take advantage of the opportunity to spend time together; turn up the music and dance, play games, go for walks - make it a scavenger hunt. Limit screen time. It’s important to connect with each other and move your body.

Mindfulness is a proven coping strategy for people of all ages. Students in grades K-6 were taught Mindfulness practices earlier this year. Videos are available on our district website that are designed specifically for parents to learn about the Mindfulness practices their children have learned. You can use this resource with your entire family to help with practicing Mindfulness.                                                             
https://www.nsanpete.org/d0-parent/counselor-s-corner.html
 Included below are more resources. If you are in need of additional resources or support contact:    Elise Hanson for K-6 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Cindy Lund for 7-12 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

YouTube Book List

Compiled by Ashley Jensen - Emery County School District

Germs:

Germs Are Not for Sharing - Elizabeth Verdick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCq3Ft_s-5s

I am a Booger...Treat Me With Respect - Julia Smith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_doBYlf7w80

Improving your mood:

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses - James Dean

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJCG1Ls7a9c

Worry:

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster - Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmNQulc7pPI

After the Fall - Dan Santat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUKt1a6I3yw

Wemberly Worried - Kevin Henkes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkuXc0htNGk

Kindness:

Have you Filled a Bucket Today? - Carol McCloud

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EuemNAo6XE

What if Everybody Did That? - Ellen Javernick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=811dQ_OisK0

Be Kind - Pat Zietlow Miller

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6NUJ2JZz50

Do Unto Otters - Laurie Keller

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKzM3CZoWqY&t=46s

Creativity:

Beautiful Oops - Barney Saltzberg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C3JAblkBds&t=2s

What do you Do With an Idea - Kobi Yamada

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0We9zl5J7hQ

Ish - Peter Reynolds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKuXo5cIRtI

The Most Magnificent Thing - Ashley Spires

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM8oN4yzJqw

Cloudette - Tom Lichtenheld

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1VY5bRlVZs

Confidence:

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon - Patty Lovell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0PJbx6cUFo

Concise Helpful Suggestions Concerning COVID-19

Yasmin Heywood

Mental Health Coordinator, South Sanpete School District 

  1. SEEK INFORMATION FROM TRUSTED SOURCES: Obtain information and updates from the world health organization at who.int  or the CDC at CDC.gov
  1. TRY TO AVOID EXCESSIVE EXPOSURE TO MEDIA:  Constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds about COVID-19 can intensify feelings of worry and distress.  Children are emotional receptors and can sense worry. Their fears and emotional insecurities are often manifested by emotional fluctuations, irritability, a return to behaviors they  have outgrown, separation anxiety for younger ones and possibly emotional withdrawal from older children.  Our efforts at emotional health and balance will spill to them.
  1. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF: Making self care a priority will allow you to continue to meet the needs of your children with less burnout, emotional numbness and feelings of being overwhelmed.  Where possible focus on things you can control, maintain as much of your daily routine and activities as you can; for example, meal-times, reading, playing outside, getting enough sleep and doing things you enjoy.
  1. CONSIDER IMPLEMENTING A DAILY POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICE:  Begin a daily practice of exercise, meditation, taking a walk, learning to breathe mindfully, and practicing how to stay in the moment and avoid the “what ifs”.
  1. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN IN A WAY THAT ALLOWS THEM TO EXPRESS FEARS:  Children of all ages often misunderstand what is happening and consequently this heightens fears and insecurities. Have conversations that allow them to ask their questions and feel heard. When they are done expressing their fears, clarify misconceptions.  Give them extra love, listening and support.
  1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS:  You may have your own fears and frustrations.  Be sure to acknowledge them.  Allow yourself to feel them and then move forward.  Repressed emotions fuel stress and emotional disconnection. 
  1. MAINTAIN HEALTHY CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS:  Isolation can be a breeding ground for increased anxiety, depression and frustration.  Connection is an antidote.  Be creative in ways to connect with others: i.e., family online support groups, facetiming, family dinners, game nights and long talks with your friends and family who are good listeners. 
  1. SAFEUT:  SafeUT recently sent out the following: “We wanted to take a moment to reassure you that SafeUT is still available as a resource for your students, parents, and yourself during this stressful time.  We have master’s level clinicians available to chat or call 24/7/365 and will continue to have them available throughout the outbreak.”  Just download the SafeUT app and use it as frequently as needed.

Great Mental Wellness Tips from Yasmin Haywood, Mental Health Coordinator, South Sanpete School District. Thanks for sharing Yasmin!

Hard-working, capable people, have a tendency to white knuckle life and push through, to achieve desired and needed results. The price is often paid in increased stress, compromised health, and decreased self-care.  May we consider a few things as we begin this period.

  1. THERE IS ALWAYS A PRICE FOR STRESS:  There are built-in stressors with this new situation.  Demands at work are compounded with concern for possibly your own children, finances, the longevity of this situation and balancing family needs and the demands of work with the backdrop of a pandemic.  The price for stress may not immediately be manifest, but generally, emotional disconnection and feelings of being overwhelmed, are some of the first prices we pay.  It does not have to be that way.  Make a decision today to make emotional health a mandatory focus.  Whatever we focus on grows, so let’s grow improved emotional health.
  1. IMPLEMENT FREQUENT MENTAL HEALTH MINUTES THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY: Make a conscious decision to do something every hour or so that improves mental health.  These can be as simple as sharing a joke with a colleague (laughter really is medicine), take two minutes to do deep breathing and clear your mind, walk around the building, look at quotes that inspire you, remember your why, connect with someone and be real about your feelings, listen to music, avoid “what ifs”, have realistic expectations, and validate yourself.  Do this intentionally throughout the day.
  1. MAKE TIME DAILY FOR YOU:  When we are overwhelmed, instead of practicing self-care we do numbing activities that do not increase our emotional capacity, and while they appear effective in the moment, we are often left feeling emptier.  Numbing activities can be scrolling on social media, eating, isolating and intentionally disconnecting.  This is not renewal, this is avoidance.  Intentionally do something you know fills your well on a daily basis.  This will be as varied as the individual.  Remember this is not selfish.  The rewards will be an increased capacity to face the demands of your day.
  1. INCREASE POSITIVE CONNECTIONS:  When stress is at its highest, we may pull away from people.  Evidence suggests human connections increase feelings of joy, life satisfaction and decreased numbing behaviors.  You may feel too busy to do this, but the rewards will be worth it.  Intentionally reach out to people who you enjoy, connect with, and trust.
  1. LET GO OF FEARS: Fear increases anxiety, weakens our immune system, destroys hope, takes us out of the present moment, compromises rational thought, hijacks our emotions, makes us less able to connect and impedes our ability to expect good things in our day to day moments.  Challenge fearful thoughts.
  1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE:  There is an ever-increasing body of evidence that supports the practice of gratitude in increasing a person's feelings of happiness, functionality, and ability to enjoy the present moment.  Make a practice of thinking of one thing each day you are grateful for and five reasons why you are grateful for it.  Research has shown this is more effective than thinking of five reasons to be grateful.  If fears and frustrations arise, do this.
  1. TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME:  This situation you are asked to function in is fraught with the unknown.  Take a deep breath and keep bringing your thoughts back to the present moment despite a natural tendency to wonder how this will all work out.  Work on the moment you are given and stay in that moment.  This is your area of control. Do that given moment with all of your presence and things will unfold well.
  1. AVOID UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Just do what you can do, step by step, and allow yourself to be pleased with your efforts.
  1. KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY:  Eat healthy foods, drink water, avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, exercise, get sufficient sleep, and schedule down time.
  1. CONSIDER WAYS THIS SOCIAL DISTANCING CAN BE A RESOURCE TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY:  Find creative ways to allow this situation to build up individual and family growth and connections.
  1. SAFEUT:  SafeUT recently sent out the following: “We wanted to take a moment to reassure you that SafeUT is still available as a resource for your students, parents, and yourself during this stressful time.  We have master’s level clinicians available to chat or call 24/7/365 and will continue to have them available throughout the outbreak.”  Just download the SafeUT app and use it as frequently as needed.