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Parenting Resiliency During COVID-19

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Parenting Resiliency During COVID-19

May 07, 2020 | Dr. Seth Shaffer
Show Notes:

Dr. Seth Shaffer, a child psychologist, joined us to address the concerns that parents and families are feeling during these unprecedented, COVID-19 times.

Megan: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Family Room. MAEC and Turning the Page is so excited to bring to you “Parenting Resiliency During COVID-19” with Dr. Seth Shaffer. As we wait for people to filter in, know that it is teacher appreciation week. So if any of you want to share a short story about one of your favorite teachers or something that you’ve done to celebrate educators this week, feel free to type it into the chat box, which will be going up on the righ...

Megan: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Family Room. MAEC and Turning the Page is so excited to bring to you “Parenting Resiliency During COVID-19” with Dr. Seth Shaffer. As we wait for people to filter in, know that it is teacher appreciation week. So if any of you want to share a short story about one of your favorite teachers or something that you’ve done to celebrate educators this week, feel free to type it into the chat box, which will be going up on the right hand of your screen, if you’re using a computer to joining us today.

Seth: [00:00:42] All right, so I think, Megan, are you going to be putting up the slides?

Megan: [00:01:02] Yes, I will be.

Seth: [00:01:04] All right. It’s great to have all of you joining us here on this fine day here.

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Keeping cool maybe depending on where you are.

Megan: [00:01:25] I think that Jen has a memory that she wanted to share of one of her favorite teachers with the group.

[background music plays]

Jen: [00:01:33] I was just thinking, I have a friend whose [inaudible] favorite English teachers over the years. And it made me reach out to an English teacher that I had both sophomore and senior year of high school, Mrs. Besch and we’re friends on Facebook now. And so I was able to like, reach out to her and like, we, you know, we interact, we like, like each other’s posts, but it was nice to have the impetus to reach out and say, you know, I really appreciated all that you did for me.

And like, this is how what you did led me to where I am now. And so that’s sort of, I mean, she was just a really great teacher who was always there for her students and always greeted everyone with a stern but welcoming smile. And it’s great now, a good chunk after the fact to be able to reach out and say thank you to those teachers and, know that it, you know, goes a long way.

Megan: [00:02:33] Yeah, and I think, you know, especially as we get into this topic of parenting resiliency, we know that parents are teachers right now as they are all the time. But definitely more, in-person all-day during this COVID-19. So we are going to kind of jump in. Again, my name is Megan Waters. I’m the Director of Programs for Turning the Page and we are so excited to host Dr. Seth Shaffer and I’ll give you so more information on him later.

He’ll be sharing with us just what it means to be resilient during this time. But this is a kickoff to a webinar series that we will be putting on every Thursday at 3:00 PM Eastern, 2:00 PM central. And we’re so excited to have you all here today. Again, please feel free to use the chat box during this event.

We are going to give some welcome introductions, talk about who we are, why we’re here. We are going to be able to, again, jump in with Dr. Shaffer and have some time for question and answers, which some of you have already amazingly pre-submitted and we can’t wait to hear from him in answering those. As well as a wrap-up with some surveys and you’ll hear about our upcoming webinars.

Seth: [00:03:52] And again, that chat, that chat function, sorry, Megan, that chat function, if you’re able to use it, you know, use it to submit some questions in there, make comments. And then we have Jen, who’s another moderator as well, who’s going to be checking that. So when we get to the Q and A thing toward the end, then we’ll be able to feel those questions.

Megan: [00:04:14] Yes, absolutely. So like you should be seeing the logistics of this as you will be on mute, but you can use the chat box and we highly encourage you to use the chat box throughout this time because this is a place for everyone to be interacting. And we look forward to hearing and answering any questions that you put in there today.

I am going to go ahead and pass this over to Karmen Rouland from MAEC to tell us a little bit about the organization.

Karmen: [00:04:44] I’ll try that again. Hi everyone. Good afternoon. My name is Karmen Rouland and I am the Program Manager for the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement, which is MAECs family engagement center. We’re the family engagement center from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Next slide. I’m going to tell you some, some information about MAEC.

We, MAEC we were founded in 1991 as an education nonprofit. Our vision we envision a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. And our mission is to promote excellence and equity in education to achieve social justice. We are dedicated to increasing, or if we can go back, sorry.

Dedicated to increasing a high quality education for culturally, linguistically and economically diverse learners. Before you move to the next slide, I also want to just talk about, share a little bit about the center for education equity, which is, MAEC’s equity assistance center.

We operate the federally funded, region one center, equity assistance center for, funded by the Department of Education. And our region spans from Maine all the way down the Eastern seaboard to Maryland over to West Virginia and Kentucky as well as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. So we’re very pleased and I’m happy that we’re able to do this today, which is, on an issue, a topic that’s very near and dear to our heart, regarding working with families and supporting families through this time during COVID-19.

And just, this quote here is from MAEC’s president Susan Shaffer, and this really outlined and serves as the foundation for the work that we do. We really believe as an agency, that “family engagement needs to be more than a series of random acts. It requires a systemic, integrated and comprehensive approach to working with families and supporting children’s learning.”

And so we hope that today’s webinar and all the subsequent webinars that we’ll be hosting you feel the same way. And we’re so pleased. And, and like I said, very happy to be working with Turning the Page as our partner.

But as I mentioned, CAFE is the federally funded family engagement center for Maryland and Pennsylvania where we work to build the capacity of educators, the state departments of education, school districts and families on high impact, culturally responsive, education in order to improve the development and academic achievement of all students.

Our conceptual framework, we believe that this work is done. We have two main assumptions. The first is that families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development. And the second is that the complex intersections of race, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, and language must be addressed to facilitate engagement.

And as I mentioned, our goals, we have two goals as a family engagement center. The first goal is to improve and sustain regional and statewide family engagement efforts. Which focus on increasing high impact, culturally responsive family engagement by addressing systemic barriers to enhance communication and collaboration among SEA’s, LEA, schools, community-based organizations, families and students.

And our second goal is to build the capacity of educators and parents to practice high impact, culturally responsive family engagement through increased awareness, knowledge, and skills.

Megan: [00:08:52] Thank you so much Karmen. So it does, we go hand-in-hand with what MAEC is working on at Turning the Page where we are engaging families for student success. Our mission is to link the public schools, families, and the community so that together we can ensure students receive valuable educational resources and a high-quality public education.

We do this in a variety of ways. Usually they’re in person, but during this really rare time, it has been exciting to engage with people online through webinars like this, through phone calls, through newsletters, and just everyday text messages saying, what’s going on? And here’s a website that can help.

Which I know Seth will be providing more of, at the end of this webinar today. So without further ado, I do want to mention on and highlight and introduce Dr. Seth Shaffer. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in California, and he is certified in parent child interactive therapy for strong-willed children. And he typically works with families and children ages two to 20. He’s located currently in Los Angeles, and we are so thrilled to have him on today and he’ll be joining us every webinar to answer questions that you have during this time, when we know it’s a new normal and a unique situation. So I’m going to hand it over to Dr. Shaffer.

Seth: [00:10:21] All, right. Thank you, Megan. Jen and Karmen. It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to answer any questions that you guys might have. And we’ll be getting to specific questions at the very end.

And then this is The Family Room series, so our goal is really in partnership with MAEC and TPP, which I want to thank both of those amazing organizations for the great work that you do, is to make ourselves available to you. So again, if you want to use that chat function on the side of your screen, if you’re looking at a screen, or it’s your phone, that’s fine, and you’re able to do that, go for it.

And then there is contact information that we’re going to be providing. So that even after this family series episode right now, this one, then in between this one and next Thursday when we have the next one you can email or a call and somehow get us some questions and we’ll do our best to be as supportive as we can of you guys during this very challenging time. Cause it is.

So I see that we have 103 attendees and although we can’t see you guys, we’re with you guys, so just know that please. Let’s get right into it. Parenting resiliency during COVID-19 with yours truly. Love that picture. All right, I got to read this disclaimer here. Seth Shaffer Psy. D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California.

The information provided by Dr. Shaffer in the MAEC Family Room Series webinars, or website newsletter does not establish a ‘therapist-client’ professional or a confidential relationship between Dr. Shaffer and any other person who accesses or learns of the information. All information shared by Dr. Shaffer Is based solely on his knowledge, expertise, and clinical training, but is not intended to be a clinical mental health service or therapy for a specific person or circumstance.

Any viewer or participant who believes that they may be experiencing psychological distress or symptoms should consult a mental health professional right away. And they may consider calling the substance abuse and mental health services administration.

It’s a 24/7 service at the national hotline. I’m going to say this number +1 800-662-4357. Or another reputable referral organization for help. There are a couple of handouts that each of you can download through your screen by clicking a certain arrow, and that’s going to have this information as well, meaning the phone number for SAMHSA and other resources that you should take advantage of, that could help you.

All right. If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So those of you who are listening to this or watching, I imagine that you’re a parent, a sister, a brother, a cousin, an uncle, someone and you’re around children.

And like Megan said earlier, you’re now teacher as well in many cases. Go ahead and give yourselves a pat on the back. We got to keep moving forward. I’m clicking here. The Coronavirus is scary, right? And these are uncertain times, but you must keep moving forward for our children, for ourselves, for our community, and for humanity.

The first thing, can we go back a slide, Megan, please? We’re going to cover seven points before we get to the questions. Number one is, thank you Megan. Take care of yourself daily. That’s number one. The more you take care of yourself, the more that you will be a resilient parent, caregiver, et cetera. That includes daily exercise, meditation, eating right, getting good sleep, and having self-compassion.

So we’re going to watch a video now on self-compassion, and Megan’s going to jumpstart that. Forgive us please. If there is no audio on your end, if you can’t hear this video, we will be making, there’s a link to click on it to watch this YouTube video so you can access that from the chat room. Enjoy.

[silence]

All right, so I’m going to go ahead and keep it moving here. Self-compassion. All right, so next up is number two. Maintain an emotional connection with your child. And this is my work, my line of work. It’s my personal life as well, I’m a father of a six year old. This is so important for resiliency.

Children largely express emotion through play. So by you interacting with your child on a regular basis or your grandchild, et cetera, you can facilitate them expressing themselves. And kids, all of us are having lots of feelings right now so this is absolutely crucial. I suggest that you spend 15 to 30 minutes per day of quality time playing or hanging out with your child.

If you need to break it up into smaller chunks like five minutes at a time here and there. We all have multiple things going on at once, then go for it. But try your best to limit distractions. So if you have a phone, keep it in your pocket. Keep it in a different room when you’re playing with your child or hanging out with your child.

Here’s some specific tips based on age and development. Zero to one year old. Talk to your baby and label the feelings. Use those feeling where it’s like happy, sad and angry. But try to keep it positive and get close to your baby’s face. Smile, touch their cute little feet, stimulate them, things like that. For the next age group, one to three year olds, go ahead and sit down with your child and have like two to three toys in front of them.

Make sure the toys are safe and can’t be swallowed and try to have the toys be creative like blocks, Duplo Legos, which is like the bigger Lego’s, stuffed animals, cooking utensils are fine as long as there’s a, you know, safe and any other safe household items work as well. So continuing on this point, we’re going to watch another video now where when you are playing with your child, this is specifically for two to seven year olds, these techniques or skills in this video. So five of the 30 minutes should be using these skills right here and Megan’s pulling up the video.

[silence]

Megan, sorry, I have to interrupt here. Can you pause that video? That’s the wrong one. And if you give me access, I can even I think pulled up. But it’s the one where it’s, PCIT. I can even describe it while you pull it up. So this video, apologies. You know, see, we just made a mistake. Like the self-compassion video.

Everyone makes mistakes and thank you guys for being flexible. what the video is that you’re going to watch is of a caregiver, a parent who’s playing with his son. Let’s just call it his son, and he’s going to be using specific play skills that I think are really crucial to keeping that bond going, and keeping that connection going.

Okay. Self-compassionate video. Okay. All right, I’m going to skip that one, Megan. Go ahead and actually just allow me to show some slides because it wasn’t populating in the options that I just had. Again, thanks for your patience, but those five of the 30 daily minutes that you spend with your child, you want to try to be doing several things. So one of them is you want to praise your child, right. Let them pick the toy, by the way, and praise your child. So I like that you’re sharing, things like that. It lets them, the child know that you like what they’re doing and they’re likely to repeat that behavior.

The other thing that you can do is reflect what your child says. So if your child said something, you know, you can reflect one word, two words, and that makes your child feel heard. I’m sure you can relate to that. When you’re talking with someone and they repeat or acknowledge what you said, you make, it makes sure that you, you feel heard.

Another thing, is describe what you see your child doing. So when you see your child, here we go, and this is what made the play good from that video that none of us saw, which is all good. I mentioned labeled praise. I mentioned reflecting what your child said, and then I mentioned describing what you see your child doing because then your child knows that you’re paying attention to them. And this is positive attention.

This is good attention. We know that children, even adults too, get negative attention. So we want to make sure that scale is at the very least balanced between positive and negative. But the goal being that more positive attention than negative. And during these five of the 30 play minutes a day with your child should be spent giving them positive attention.

And most importantly, following your child’s lead in play. What this play can do, it can increase your child’s self-esteem, self-confidence. And sharpen their social skills, and above all, it strengthens the parent child relationship, which is again, bringing about that resiliency. Moving along here.

All right. The other thing too, and I kind of mentioned this, I’m not going to say everything on each slide because I want to make sure we get to the questions that’s like the meat of this I would consider, because it’s things that you guys are all thinking about and experiencing and we want to try and be as helpful as we can with that.

What you don’t want to do during those five special playtime minutes of the 30 again, you want to not ask questions, no commands. And you don’t want to criticize, right? So asking questions or giving commands can pull your child off that play. Whereas what you’re trying to do in these five special playtime minutes is follow their lead and do that.

Not that any of you criticize your kids outside of play, right? Guilty, I do it sometimes with my six year old, remember, you don’t have to use these strategies perfectly for them to build your child’s self-worth and confidence because no one is perfect. And I myself do this with my child often. Well, I will acknowledge when I’ve made a mistake, and I’m sure many of you have done this too, and that’s okay. It’s a good thing to model for your child actually.

This is the next age group when we’re focusing on quality time, so that’s your seven to 10 year old. You can use the same skills that I described, right? Just change the language a little bit. So instead of like, thank you for sharing, right? You might use that with a younger kid.

You might say you’re the man. Instead of reflecting exactly what your child says, you might reflect the meaning of what they said, right? So if your child’s like, you know, I want to build the millennium Falcon and you’re like, okay, you want to build something from Star Wars? Awesome. During the special play, five minutes consider playing with kitchen utensils, but try to stay away from games with rules. Now. For that remaining 25 minutes if you will, or other times you interact with your kid and play with them or whoever you’re taking care of and around, you can play games with rules, to go on a walk. Right? Things like that.

I believe this is the final age group that I’m gonna touch on directly. Love that photo. What does quality time look like for a 10 plus year old child? Right. Bigger they get, bigger the problems sometimes they say. So it can be harder to engage your kid or your grandkid or who you’re taking care of.

Just keep that in mind, but go on a walk, play a board game. I personally love monopoly deal and there’s some others listed here. Play a sport, do an art project. I just showed my son a YouTube video of a do-it-yourself, some ideas for do-it-yourself at home, which are household items. And that’s included as one of the resources.

And one of the handouts actually. Now for those caregivers that have a teenager in the house, God bless you. If your child is a teenager and gives you some attitude when you try to engage with them, give them space, but keep checking in with them daily and keep trying to engage them in quality interactions.

They need to know that you were there to support them emotionally, even if they won’t admit it. Oftentimes I think with teenagers you might get the, Oh, leave me alone, or things like that, but deep down inside, I believe that they’re hearing you and feeling you as you check in with them. So don’t give up. And it’s nice that you respect their boundaries. Make time, make time daily to talk with your child about how they’re feeling.

Examples. How are you feeling? Is there anything bothering you that you want to talk about? Are you missing your friends? Are you missing school? I noticed that you seem down, what’s up? You just, you know, raise your voice there. You just yelled, what’s up? It’s another example. Also share your thoughts and feelings too, be authentic.

Ask if your child has any questions about social distancing or COVID-19. And make sure that you have the facts that you have the accurate information too, about COVID-19. And again, on one of those handouts, it has links, one of them is to a center for disease and control website.

There’s actually two links for CDC. One is like MythBusters, right? And in another one is actual factual information. So please access those and then you can weave those into these daily check-ins with your child. Number three, learning happens all the time. And now Megan’s gonna show the video. I know it’s going to be right this time, this eight year old.

So this is called, this eight year olds interacting with his, pretty sure it’s his father. It was his father in the car here. This is amazing. Enjoy this.

[silence]

Love that. I love that. All right. We’re on number three of, and keeping the moving here. All right, here we go. We’re back. That was a great example of a father and a son in their car. So they’re practicing safe, social distancing, right? It’s just them two in the car, but then they’re also weaving in learning in a very natural way.

The call and response happening and child is obviously very engaged and feels very proud of himself, and that’s a proud Papa right there in the car as well. So I really liked that as a good example of safe social distancing and also incorporating learning. All right, we’re going to keep it moving here.

And by the way, this is supposed to be a 45 minute, family room series today, but we’re likely gonna, I’m gonna make myself available to run over because I want to make sure that we have some time to get to as many questions as possible. So if you can hang on for beyond 45 minutes, feel free to stay with us.

And, we’ll just keep it moving. I also don’t want to rush through any of the, the important information here that I’m conveying to you guys. And I hope at least some of it has been beneficial.

Number four, advocacy works. Call and if possible, email your child’s teacher to update them about how your child is doing.

Communicate, right. Make your child’s teacher aware of any issues your child is having related to school and learning. I’m sure many kids are having challenges. Okay? So whoever is in your household, whatever kids are in your household they are not alone. Call the school counselor because they are still holding office hours. Bang on those desks, right, to advocate for your kids. And the teacher, if they don’t hear from you, they don’t know what they don’t know, right? So that’s another reason why you want to advocate and communicate, reach out to the teachers. And if you can’t reach someone or you don’t get a call back, call again. Call again, call again and keep calling.

Advocacy requires persistence. If you need to call the principal, call the district, and don’t stop until you get what you need for your child or your children. It’s really important. And if your kids are around and can hear you calling, you’re going to be modeling advocacy. That’s a form of learning.

Modeling is a huge form of learning. It’s called social learning in my world, all of our worlds.

Number five, stay active. Super important. And kids, I’ve been hearing a lot of things from my clients and other families and friends. I don’t want to go outside. Right. Or, you know, leave me alone and things like that.

Make them. Okay in a safe way, but you know, and try to motivate them and encourage them. Make it fun. Scootering, biking if you can, or just go on a walk in the neighborhood if it’s okay. You can also turn your apartment into a workout space, right? Going on walks, you’ll get some fresh air, which is also a change of environment, and that’s important.

Just make sure that the workouts are daily. This is part of health.

All right? Also on YouTube, and there are some apps for exercise videos as well. And, you can even create an exercise routine with your child. Kids are so savvy these days, you know, they know about like all this stuff, and so you can increase buy-in in your child for them to work out with you if they’re involved in creating the workout. Right?

Hey, you know, hey grandma, or hey mom, or hey, you know, auntie, whoever, I, you know, I see this website here or on YouTube, there’s this video of this seven minute workout. Let’s do it right? And you’re like, okay, yeah, let’s do it. So that’s a good thing to do.

Number six, stay social while social distancing. I’m a huge proponent of social skills. I teach it. I’m really social in my own life as well, especially now where we can’t be physically social with each other to some extent, right? You know, we want to be following safe, social distancing practices, but not the way that we’re used to. Right? So all of us are struggling with that, especially with our children.

Facilitate your child staying socially connected as best you can. Go old school. Child can write letters to friends, right? Those are fun to get. Throw a picture in there or something like that, or send them drawings, right? So you know, your kid can send an email. Your child can use FaceTime.

And finally, the last point before we jump into the Q and A, number seven, monitor your child’s mental health. These are stressful and uncertain times. It is normal for your child to be experiencing some anxiety, sadness, difficulty concentrating, and or other kind of sleep issues. Most children though, will manage with the support of you and loved ones. Children generally are fairly resilient, and so it’s important that they experience us as being as confident as we can, but also being authentic.

And with our support and love, generally, kids will be okay. Now, some children may have some risk factors though. And more intense reactions to everything that’s happening right now. Like severe anxiety, depression, and suicidal behaviors. Take those things very seriously. And some of these risk factors can include like preexisting mental health conditions or just one condition, any kind of prior traumatic experiences or abuse, family instability, or the loss of a loved one. I got some of the wording here and information from the National Association of School Psychologists or NASP. and there’s a link on the resources page again, from that handout you can download, with information on NASP’s website, which is very helpful.

So related to mental health. Now this is kind of like red flag stuff. Right? Parents and caregivers should contact a professional if children exhibit significant changes in behavior or if any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks. So for preschoolers, thumb sucking, bed wetting, right? Clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior and withdrawal, right?

So meaning like, look out for these things over the next two weeks. And if they were not there before and they’re there now and it kind of coincides or in terms of a timeline, some of these things that are happening in your child, lineup more or less with stay home orders and COVID-19 stuff, keep that in mind.

Elementary school age. Some irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance. So that includes like virtual learning, right? Or a phone call with a counselor if the counselor wanted to call you at your home. Or if a teacher wanted to call your home, avoiding them. Poor concentration and withdrawal from activities and friends.

Finally, adolescents. Sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increasing conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior and poor concentration. So again, on one of those, on our awesome resource page, excuse me, there are two handouts. On one of them there is a link to the American Psychological Association webpage, which has a lot of mental health, related resources to you, like put people you can call, agencies, government supported agencies and whatnot.

So if you’re not sure about what’s happening with your kid, but you’re worried about them, call one of those numbers or that one 800, I mentioned at the beginning in the disclaimer. And with that. I turn it over to Megan in the question corner. Good name you came up with Megan.

Megan: [00:34:22] We are so excited to actually have Dr. Seth Shaffer here every time we jump on a webinar for the Family Room on Thursdays at three. And we have gotten a lot of great questions in the chat box that we are going to jump into, but please don’t hesitate to keep adding questions there. We also will, you know, with a little extra added time that Dr. Shaffer has allowed us, we’ll go a little bit over 3:45 just so we can get to some of these really in the moment questions that you all have for us. But do keep in mind, again, that we will be doing this weekly. So if you have something that isn’t answered immediately today, you can send it our way and we’ll be answering it in additional webinars. Again, use the chat box and we are going to kind of switch it over so that you can actually see us and be a part of us and hear how it’s all going. So Seth, one question that actually came in, and I might be willing to share your screen if possible, and if not, we’ll go back to our original side.

But. It came in from Jessica, and I think it’s really pertinent to a couple of the, you just showed us that COVID-19 has radically changed the way we deal with grief and loss. For those of us who have a lost family member or a close person in their life because, or not directly because of COVID, how do we deal with these complex feelings as a family that can’t meet to deal with this in person?

Seth: [00:35:55] That’s a great question. And thanks for asking Jessica. I think that the most important, one thing to be keeping in mind is the ages of the young people in your apartment or wherever it is that you’re living. Cause you want to be keeping in mind the language that you use around children. And then the younger they are, I think the more that you want to be focusing on a feeling that might be coming up, that either you’re having or anyone else’s having in these kinds of conversations.

I mean, we’re all living in close quarters, right? So kids are hearing even more than they normally do, right? So there are very little secrets if any, being kept. And it’s okay for kids to know about it, I think. I think it’s all about how you deal with it, how you respond to it. So the younger they are, I would say the more you want to kind of just be talking about any feelings that are associated. With it and just reassure them, you know, that this is sad, things are going to be okay. If one or more of the kids in your household are emotionally impacted by it, the younger they are you can facilitate them expressing those feelings by drawing.

You know, they wanted to draw someone, someone they’ve lost, you guys have lost in the form of a picture, et cetera. The older they get, I think the questions, and the information that you share and talk about with your family are gonna, they’re gonna be more questions, right? So like, let’s say like elementary school age or even middle school, specifically elementary, they might be like asking questions to try and actually make sense of death and loss and things like that.

And just make yourself available to answer questions. The more available you are the better. And then, you know, with high schoolers and above, there might even be like more concrete things and questions around that. But I think the name of the game is with grief and loss is let it happen. Let it happen.

I hope that that was helpful there. What’s the next question?

Megan: [00:37:49] Yeah. And so from Krishna, and actually we have a few questions coming in around this topic. We have a lot of non-English speaking families. How do you suggest that they best advocate and for them for ourselves, especially when there may not be a culture of educational advocacy where they are originally from.

So kind of how you mentioned on the other slide, around like make calls be advocates. What are some other methods of doing that, especially for non-English speaking families?

Seth: [00:38:22] I would say trying to connect with either neighbors. Again, it could be over a phone call and do it safely. Talking with other community members, you know, let’s say if you’re, if you speak Spanish, for example, that’s your primary language, your first language, then communicating with those who are in your network or in your community who are part of your extended family. I put that in quotes, or literally. And, so seek support and guidance from them as well and stay connected. But I really wanna, you know, mention that slide that I included earlier, that that’s really a really good way to advocate for yourself, for your family.

And that’s in the context of education. I understand that. But even if it comes to like, you know, I don’t know, you know, local public health, kind of things, or departments, and the like, that there are phone numbers for just about, if not every single, public entity out there, from education to health, et cetera.

And then there’s also, so contact them and apply the same advocacy approach to that. And then if the person who was asking that question, if I remember, were asking on behalf of those families. I don’t want to assume here, but it could be the case that maybe you work for a nonprofit or a government agency or et cetera.

And so by you even asking that questions, you’re indirectly advocating for that family. Right? So keep reaching out to people like us and connecting with us, and we’ll do the best we can to help you.

Megan: [00:39:48] Yeah, I think that’s a great point Seth, especially nowadays. I know a lot of districts have access to resources that will translate websites then and translate even phone calls from teachers who may not be Spanish speakers. So, continue to ask us these questions and we’ll put up as many links after this as well, for those types of services that you can also directly access and link for your family.

Another…

Seth: [00:40:19] Related to that, sorry, I want interrupt for a second. In the context of advocating for your child in the context of your kid’s education, for example. So you mentioned some really important points there Megan, I like that. I’m going to build off that. If you can get someone to help translate and transcribe for you, right? So if there is a language barrier between you and let’s say the counselor at your kid’s school or the principal, that’s what I also meant when I was saying earlier about staying connected with your community.

And even if, you know, at the end of the day, if there is a young person in your home who, let’s say who happens to speak English? And again, you as the caregiver, it’s limited or you don’t. Help, you know, see that as a learning opportunity to model advocacy in of itself. And then you can, you have, you know, that young person maybe transcribe some of it as well.

So there’s, that’s a way to integrate learning, social modeling and advocacy.

Megan: [00:41:12] I’m going to move on to our next question, that actually kind of wraps up a couple of things that I’m seeing in the chat box, but with the stressors that families may be facing, how do you encourage families to give children the attention they may need during this time, especially when many working families are considered essential workers and there may be kids of different ages in the home?

Seth: [00:41:39] Okay. So that’s a good question. And, there’s not going to be a straightforward answer, right? So I think one of the things to be keeping in mind is flexibility, right? You’re not always going to be able to be available. I’m going to come back to essential worker parent, but let’s say, you know, accessibility if you’re working from home. You’re not always going to be available, and it’s okay to tell your child that. I’d like to segue at the end of this question maybe, or you can ask another one, Megan, about creating structured routine. I want to make sure we get to that, but, when you are able to make yourself available, right, then you kind of follow the guidance that I did.

I mentioned earlier in the PowerPoint presentation, which is that five to 30 minutes a day. That’s really what that’s for. And when you’re using those specific skills that I mentioned, it was specifically for two to seven year olds, but you can modify it as they’re older. Again, the main thing about quality time is making yourself present.

You’re fully present. You’re there to answer the questions your kid has. You’re checking in with them, that kind of a thing, showing affection, and whatnot. So, I refer to those earlier slides in terms of play-based ways to stay connected with your kid when you’re able to make yourself available, when. And if you’re not, you’re not. Just communicate that right in a way that is clear, in a way that is compassionate with your kids. And like that.

For essential workers coming in and out. First of all, I want to say thank you to all these essential workers. My wife is one of them actually. So, you know thank you guys for being on the front lines. And, this is a time of really crisis, isn’t it? So we have people on the front lines that are putting their lives at risk. And anytime that if you can do it safely, right, with the exception of like an essential worker who might need to quarantine or something like that away from their family, which is a whole other conversation and webinar, maybe we’ll get to it.

But if you’re an essential worker and you come home, I think one thing that’s important when you get home, if you’re able to take a shower, like unwind a little bit, because you’re going to be coming home to multiple people’s worlds, right? Assuming that there’s a lot of people living there and by taking a shower or something like that, it gives you a beat to kind of come down.

You come out fresh and then you can connect with your kids. And I think that’ll make you feel good by connecting with them, whether it’s through play, whether it’s through a conversation over dinner, whether it’s right before bedtime, that kind of a thing. Then go for it. I hope that I kind of addressed that one. That’s a really good question.

Megan: [00:44:16] Yeah. You know, we did get some pre-submitted questions about that, creating routines and agendas. And we also got another kind of follow-up around that topic in the chat box. And you kind of just even hit a little bit on it with that essential worker piece coming when you come back home and that evening time maybe.

But we had a question that, what about family dinner? Like is it making a comeback? Is it a bit of an agenda? Should it be a few times of a week? Is it valuable? Maybe you can kind of speak to that as well as what the structure of a day might look like. Especially as we’re getting into this time period, like a parent who actually talked about earlier around, it’s the end of the school year. And people are, especially some of the older students are starting to say, there’s no learning going on. It’s just about testing. How does it look right now? And how should it feels to create that routine.

Seth: [00:45:15] Wahoo. All right, that’s a loaded one, right there.

I like that. Yeah, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get every single point, but I’ll do my best. And again, I strongly encourage all 107, or eight attendees right now, tune in each week because I’m sure similar questions are going to be coming up and then keep in touch with us in between.

Listen, all of our kids are gonna be behind academically. Like that’s just the reality of this, you know? So I think we have to begin thinking about that and trying to kind of process it and accept it. And it’s okay. And what I mean by behind in little air quotes there, is that there is school based learning, right?

There is an education system that we’re all part of, you know, in some shape or form, right? Or have been, and our kids, those who are distant learning, it’s just very different. And so they’re not going to be able to absorb the information in the way that would be as if they were sitting in a classroom.

It’s just not going to happen. And so I think the first part about accepting that our kids will be in quotes behind, all of them are going to be behind. And that’s okay. And when it’s safe to go back to school, when that day comes, and it will, then the teacher, I’m sure all the wonderful teachers out there who are working extremely hard on the virtual learning piece, as challenging as that is, I’m sure their work hours are doubling and tripling. Which is great. Thank you to the teachers out there. That they’ll work with it. It’ll be okay. And so that’s what I wanted to say about that.

In terms of structure and routine, here’s some concrete things and dinner is part of this. Okay. And I’ll preface by saying, what’s important is that, yes, while these are scary times, many of us, if not all of us really having to stay home or should, you know, with our families, et cetera., Let’s try to find the silver lining. Let’s try to look on the bright side and the positive side. So one positive aspect is that we’re spending more time with our family members than we normally do, right?

And so that’s why it’s important to kind of see that as maybe an opportunity when you’re able to, to connect with your child. Like we’ve talked about, and I’ve mentioned earlier. Structure and routine concrete things. So it’s important to have structure and routine, especially our more vulnerable populations, like those who’ve experienced one or more traumas.

I’ll just say here, I took some notes for myself in preparation for this, that those who’ve experienced one or more trauma, in the past, they need trust or they want to know what to expect, right? Safety, respect, or feel respected. They want to feel like you’re collaborating with them and that they’re empowered.

Right. That safety and security is super important for those who have experienced one or more traumas in their past. For that population, how do you do it? I think that if you’re not already doing this. You can even do it with your kid, depending on the age. You should create a schedule for your kid. Write it out, you know, bust out some paper, pencil, whatever you have available, but something visual would be ideal, and create the daily schedule from wake up to the end of the, in quotes, school day kind of a thing. And then post it somewhere.

If your kid is again, younger and they would want to do this, they can decorate parts of it, you know, so that they’re involved in it. The older kids, middle-high school, maybe in elementary, middle and high school, maybe they write it, you know, or they do a draft and you’re kind of with them. Post it somewhere where it’s visible and then starting with wake up, you wake them up when it would be time for school. Right?

So this is all under the assumption that you’re able to do this. And if there’s more than one caregiver in the household, divide and conquer, divide and conquer, all right? And do the best you can. So the important thing about creating a schedule and a routine is you don’t want to be rigid about it, right?

You want to be flexible. But what that does is it sends the precedent, it sets the precedent for your young people in your house, your kids that, hey, this is what we’re going to be doing. So they know what to expect. Post it somewhere, when they wake up, go have breakfast, you know, like they would for school, breakfast, brush teeth, wash your face, change your clothes, change your clothes, maybe you have a pajama day, you know, here and there, whatever. And that kind of a thing.

But I think it’s important to get them into that routine by doing that. Then at a certain time, right, you’d be following the schedule, so to speak, that they, they do the learning part. And again, I encourage you to download that handout that has some resources for kind of fun ways of learning. Experiment.

I mean, my kid’s six, so this isn’t going to be applicable to all you guys. But, he loves art right now, you know? So I like, I’m rolling with that. And one thing, he also likes sharks. And so I was like, okay, well, we were eating breakfast, Julian and I, and I was like, hey, you know, is there anything you want to know about sharks that you don’t know?

And he picks something. And I was like, hey, why don’t we look up on the internet how many sharks, the different subspecies or whatever of sharks there are. And we made a whole project out of it, right? Where he ended up doing a graph with my help. So we incorporated math. We incorporated, you know, all the other stuff, drawing he had, he was empowered.

We incorporated research and all those great things. And that was that. Now, do you want to be trying, I’m not teacher, okay, in like classroom education teacher, that teacher. But, I mean, you probably want to be trying to hit different subjects like science, math, environment, et cetera. But you don’t have to every day.

I mean, generally like I’m thinking right now, probably pre-K, K, one to two hours a day of learning in quotes. Where maybe they’re like sitting in a certain place, try and have the space where the child works. I mean, you know, we’re all living in small spaces, right. Or many of us. But if there can be like consistency in where they work, that will be good.

Cause environment matters when it comes to learning and the brain getting in gear so to speak. But then I want to underscore that point. I’m going to stop cause I can sometimes ramble and I don’t want to do that. Consistency is key here. So once you have the schedule, once you have the routine going, try to keep it going, you’re going to get push-back from your kids.

I mean, it’s likely going to happen. And what that means is that that’s part of them, adjusting to it. Then the next day, day two, do it again, day three, do it again. If you have to deal with putting out the fire, so to speak, of emotion, address that. Right. But I would say for those younger kids, pre-K, K maybe one or two hours tops of like you know, straight learning, if you will. And breaks, have the kids take breaks. So an important part of that schedule is a break. I mean, what I usually do for my six year old is, and I’m gonna try, let me try and think of an older example. Maybe like elementary school, half an hour of doing something let’s say, followed by a 15 minute break and use that as an opportunity to take, go outside with them, walk around if you’re able to.

Do some pushups, some sit ups or jumping jacks, your little routine. Let your kid, elementary school kid, pick what their, make their break list and what they do. What I would discourage though is letting them, if they have that available to play a video game or something. Push video game stuff and that kind of stuff to the end of the school day, so to speak, if that is something that your child has access to and wants to do. And make the breaks something that’s just more exercise based or something of that nature.

So I kind of addressed the ages of terms of learning. Maybe elementary school, two hours a day, maybe three. Middle school maybe like, you know, whatever, two, three to four hours a day. High school, they probably could five hours. I think typically five to six hours is a typical school day. So the older they get, the more time and you can kind of take what I’m saying is more guidance.

It’s not set or etched in stone kind of a thing. These are just my thoughts. And I was going to say one other comment about this. One other thing that I think is really important. It’s slipping me right now and that’s okay. We’ll just move on. I hope that that’s enough and gives you guys an idea.

Megan: [00:53:11] If it comes back to you, let us know, but we do know, obviously we are at about that 3:54 if you’re East coast, so we’re going to do one more question, but you all have sent in some amazing ones and we are going to definitely address them in upcoming webinars and you can use the question box as well, in addition to the chat in the future, and we’ll reference that again in our next webinar.

But Seth you did kind of just mentioned something around that, like that emotional ball recently when you were just speaking. And someone typed in that, an a, an 11 year old autistic child is expressing her growing anger during this time. They’ve tried breathing, exercising, finding a happy visual place, music and yoga, but nothing that has been tried, has helped, and they’re kind of feeling at a loss.

Is there anything kind of top of your mind or any website or resource that you could, you could point her to, to help with this?

Seth: [00:54:12] I’m glad you asked that question, cause I wanted to address a population of those kids with special needs. I work with kids on a regular basis who are on the spectrum and no two are the same. Right?

So, with that said, I want to, I found in my research and preparation for this, a resource that is on one of the handouts. So Autism Speaks, I saw this on their website apparently until like, I think June 1st or something. They’re offering. Yep. Thanks, Jen. They’re offering, a free web course. So if you have access to the internet, even if it’s on your phone.

Then I would encourage you to go onto that Autism Speaks, follow that link that we’re providing in a handout. Click it, take advantage of it. It’s free. Do it. Right. So that could kind of help give you some ideas specifically related to feelings, just keep in mind if you’re not already, that, while nothing might seem like it’s working or working well enough, part of what your child could be adjusting to is just these circumstances.

You know, so most likely, well I think I can safely say generally, like probably all kids, all of us are not at our baseline, you know, cause these are very unusual times. So any specific things, I don’t know if you mentioned that the person who asked a great question, change of environment, not making such a big thing out of it.

So sometimes as parents, as caring caregivers, we’re attuned to our kid if they’re having a tough time, and we might try to talk and do certain things, but sometimes we wanted to pair back the talking if it seems to be exacerbating the child’s, your child’s emotion, or it’s just not, you’re not getting enough traction and try and use more distraction, which you might have said that you tried.

Play a game. Frankly, in these times, and I normally wouldn’t say this, I’ve just experienced this with kids on the spectrum, but really all kids, something on a screen can help calm them down. And these are crazy times and crazy times are desperate times, if you will, call for desperate measures. If you need to resort to it, pop like your kid’s favorite TV show or little clip that’s appropriate on a screen, if you have that available to you.

Or you can get creative yourself an act out a scene from your kid’s favorite TV show, right? Or if you have TV, you might pop that on and just tell your child, hey, I think this might help calm your body down. So I’m going to put on your favorite show right now. Let them kind of calm down.

I mean, their brain is gonna be super active when watching a show. That’s the misnomer about watching TV. Their body might be still, right, but their brain is very active. But maybe it helps them regulate and then afterwards you try and transition them out of that. Maybe give them a snack or some water or go on the walk and you continue to facilitate it, but basically ride it out.

We might not, we’re not going to find a silver bullet, so to speak when it comes to helping our kid regulate. And that’s a good question. And I want to say also, anything that I’m floating out there, don’t just take what I’m saying, yeah, I’m Dr. Shaffer. Okay. Whatever. But, I worked hard for that, but whatever.

But my point is, don’t just file it blindly. Try it, test it out and make anything that I’ve mentioned or covered in these slides. See how they could work for your family and then come back and give us feedback. Right. We want feedback. So next week when you join in, you can do that or some other ways, but I hope that that was hope that that was helpful.

That’s a good question.

Megan: [00:57:29] Yeah, that was fantastic. And again, all the questions that you guys are sending us, we see you, we hear you, and we are here for you, especially in upcoming weeks. The question corner will be here next Thursday and the following Thursday. So we will hit on what you guys are asking about that are all super valid, super important, and we want to get into them.

In the interest of time, I’m going to just share some upcoming information. For our future webinars, and Seth, Dr. Shaffer, did reference these links and resources, which will be sent out to you and you’ll see some in the chat box from Jen. You will also see a survey for us from the chat box. But please do visit the website that is on our screen, maec.org/covid-19/state-resources.

It really provides a lot of fantastic information, and if you sign up for our newsletter, Learning at Home, you’ll be getting these resources right to your inbox and it’ll provide a link also to videos and articles that are in the moment and helping with us as we kind of, every week is new and different. And we are beginning to make this feel more real.

We will be here again, like I mentioned next Thursday. And what you’re going to expect is our welcome and introductions. We’ll have a highlighted guest, a question answer session. Our question corner is Dr. Shaffer and a wrap up. Some of the people that you’ll be seen as Little Friends for Peace next week, as well as Carla Easter from NIH and Exploring our Genes on the 21st and on May 28th we will have Ann Caspari from the National Air and Space Museum talking about Flights of Fancy.

Again, 2:00 PM central, 3:00 PM Eastern, every Thursday. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you all again next week. And if you want to use the QR code for the survey, you can actually screenshot it on your phone and Karmen may have more information on how to use that.

But that is all from me. Again, amazing to have you all here and thank you so much for Dr. Shaffer for that information that is invaluable right now.

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