Jennie Statczar is a Counselor Trainee with Spirit of Peace Clinical Counseling who has been utilized in our school this year. She recently shared this letter with our staff as a way to look at explaining and supporting families during this time of uncertainty. Please take some time to use the information in the letter and also the link included in the letter to help further guide your home discussions.
Dear St. Brigid of Kildare School Families,
Following the shutdown of all schools in Ohio, many businesses are shutting down or having parents work from home and parents are having to explain what is happening. The purpose of this brief letter is to help support the parents of St. Brigid School during this transition.
Discuss what is happening and use words your child already knows; this will help curve your child’s anxiety. Your child has heard information or noticed things that are different, help them sort it through. Let them ask questions and if you’re not sure of the answers be honest. Not talking about something can make the worry larger. The conversation is a great opportunity for you as the parent to set an emotional tone to this situation so monitor how you respond. If you’re feeling anxious about this, give yourself some time to calm down prior to talking with your kids. Giving the information from an informational and reassuring place will help your child. Some tips would be to keep in mind your child’s age, do not volunteer too much information, give your child a chance to ask questions, and let them know you are available. Encourage your child to share what they have learned/heard, as this will help curve frightening fantasies your child may have already created. Finally, let them know you will update them when you get more information.
Help your child see how rare the virus is. Normalize it by including the fact that the flu is more common. See the link at the bottom of this letter for facts regarding the virus. Share with your child what your family is doing to stay safe. Encourage them to be involved in the plan — this will help them feel empowered rather than a victim to the virus (i.e. toss your tissues out rather than leave them laying around; wash your hands for 20 seconds). Oh and for the face masks they are seeing — you can let them know the CDC is saying they are not necessary for most.
So now about staying home. ROUTINE. It would be good to establish a routine. Stay in a similar pattern to the normal work/school week. Get dressed, eat, do school work, incorporate physical activity, and go to bed at a normal time.
What a great time to highlight the things we can do now that we are at home. Give your entire family control to suggest things they would like to do with this extra together time. Maybe pull out that game the family hasn’t played or the craft you can all do, a daily family challenge, or go on a scavenger hunt walk. Do not forget AWAY TIME — establish a time each day to have time where everyone can go off and have quiet time (reading, nap, drawing, etc).
Reach out if you have any specific questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope this helps-Jennie
614.442.7650 ext. 15
Check out this tip sheet from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.