As a country, we find ourselves in a time of high stress. Right now, we are awaiting the results of the election. As results are -hopefully- safely being processed, students, teachers, administrators, and parents are quite stressed. In one of our virtual skill building groups last night, a 5th grade girl was in tears due to the earthquake-level stress and fear she felt after overhearing adult conversation. How do we help our students use their social-emotional tools to get through this nerve-wracking time? How do we help ourselves use social tools during political uncertainty?
Those of you who already have a social-emotional framework are prepared. Your children or students can practice their skills and utilize the calming tools available to them. With direction and coaching, familiar social tools can easily be applied to our current political situation.
Below, you will find suggested guidelines for applying Social Bridges curriculum to the topic of the election.
Tools For Schools: Set the Social Expectation
Historically, politics is a “red button topic” that we avoid in Social Bridges. However, we recognize that each school has their own guidelines. If you feel that your older students have mastered skills such as perspective-taking and respectful communication, then they may be ready to take on an emotionally charged topic such as the election. In general, guidelines regarding the amount of political discussion that takes place during structed learning is a decision that each school must make for themselves.
Tools For Parents: Set Boundaries
Limit the amount of news children are exposed to. This includes media coverage and what they may overhear from adult conversation. If your child brings up the election, engage in helpful conversation, address their concerns, and answer their questions to the best of your ability. Use Social Bridges tools and terms that are familiar to them. For example, “What’s on your stay calm plan? What triggers you? How can you de-stress? Who or what helps you feel safe?”
Tools For Everyone
Examine this question: “What I actually control?” At this point, the outcome of the election is out of our hands. However, teens can educate themselves and be involved in political activism if they so choose. Adults can be politically active and vote. Currently, all children, teens and adults need to be patient and wait for the votes to be counted.
Use Social Filter & Social Prediction. Think before you speak. When discussing the election or politics with others, consider how to best communicate your thoughts. Is what I am thinking helpful, or hurtful? If it’s hurtful – should I even say it? If my automatic thought is hurtful, how can I use Social Filter to say it in a way that is more respectful? What is the potential impact of what I say or do? How could others feel?
As adults, we are responsible for setting the example of using respectful communication and social tools during political uncertainty. Parents, teachers, and administrators can all benefit from using our own tools to cope. I know that for me, this is a very stressful time and finding balance has not easy. I’m taking things one day at a time. Take good care and feel free to reach out if I can be of help.