These days, students are feeling a little whiplashed by the changes to their school and home environments because of Covid. Children who felt out of control before are most affected, but even students who normally feel in control may be finding themselves thrown off-balance. A sense of control over oneself is essential to feeling a sense of control over one’s environment. While none of us can control Covid, we make choices everyday to keep ourselves safe and to cope with the changes we face. These actions help us feel in control of ourselves. We know “this too shall pass” because our life experiences have taught us this. Children and teens, on the other hand, do not have enough life experience to understand this. Everything seems like it will go on forever.
Parents and teachers:
Parents and teachers can help students overcome their off-balance feelings by helping each student to identify his or her own feelings, values, and strengths. This knowledge helps students maintain a well-grounded sense of self-confidence that they can successfully face day to day challenges, even the current ones.
Helping children recognize their feelings:
Some children are never or rarely asked how they feel. The simple act of asking a child how he or she is feeling about the current situation can provide an opening for the adults in their lives to guide them through the process of examiningthose feelings to see if they are realistic, to understand what beliefs they arise from, and put them into context.
Guiding versus telling:
Revealing one’s own feelings in similar situations and talking aloud about how you dealt with those feelings can be more helpful to children than telling them how they should feel. “Should” is a black hole that delegitimize children’s feelings rather than helping them to put the situation that prompted those feelings in context.
These strategies are used in the Metacognitive Approach to Social Skills Training (MASST-R). The program begins with the premise that internal control is necessary for responsible, productive behavior and problem solving. Essential to such internal control is a knowledge of self: who we are, what forces made us what we are, how we have made choices that resulted in who we have become, and how to modify those choices for positive change. For these reasons, the MASST-R Module One is devoted to helping students develop self-awareness. Self-knowledge empowers students to develop personal, internal strategies for problem solving and feeling in control of one’s situation.
For more information about how to help students develop these skills, see the MASST-R
Module One: Self-Awareness at: https://www.sheinkereducationalservices.com/modules . Access the accompanying
Module One workbook for students at: https://www.sheinkereducationalservices.com/student-graphic-organizers . The student graphic organizers (workbooks) are currently available free of charge.