Finding the Silver Lining: Tips for Childcare Providers and Educators During COVID-19

By Laken Dillow, United Way of Southwest Virginia

Childcare providers and educators are often taught about trauma and the different approaches to helping a student or child cope, but how often do they stop and reflect on their own lives?

John Richardson-Lauve, a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience working in the field of mental health, recently hosted a Zoom chat with the Childhood Success Advisory Council during Resiliency Week 2020. During the chat, Richardson-Lauve offered educators and childcare providers tips to finding the silver lining during a global pandemic.

Trauma is defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is distressing or disturbing. Richardson-Lauve states that in order to understand trauma and determine how to become resilient, we must also understand the three E’s: Event, Experience, and Effects.

  • Event – what happened to an individual? (In this case, everyone!)
  • Experience – It is vitally important to try to understand the trauma we are experiencing.
  • Effects – how does this trauma affect our daily lives?

According to Richardson-Lauve, “We are ALL dealing with the direct trauma of COVID-19.”

Unfortunately, this strange new form of life often leaves people feeling stressed, out of control, and helpless. Although life seems up ended, our childcare providers and educators are still working to provide for our region’s most vulnerable citizens – our children. These unsung heroes are certainly adapting, and need to be resilient.

Simply stated, resiliency is how we bounce back from these traumatic events or experiences. In order to be resilient, we must understand another three-prong approach: Attachment, Regulation, and Competency.

  • Attachment – While the pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, it is important to maintain relationships with our friends, families, co-workers, and loved ones. According to John Richardson-Lauve, when we connect with those we care about, the brain releases positive endorphins, which gives the body a sense of peace and mindfulness.
  • Regulation – Although the world has been knocked to the ground and day-to-day routines have been shaken, it is critically important that you find what works for YOU! Regulating your mind, body and emotions are key to staying on track during a time of chaos and uncertainty. Try exercising, deep breathing, or eating healthier. In fact, even something as simple as taking a shower each morning before your cup of coffee is enough to keep you on track of maintaining a daily routine.
  • Competency –Your days may look entirely different now, but it is important to remember that you ARE competent. Find a niche that makes you happy, boosts your self-esteem, and builds upon your own feeling of self-worth. Try something new during this extra time we have all suddenly found. Always wanted to master that old family recipe? Now’s the time to give it a go. Get creative! Paint, knit, practice yoga, teach your old dog a new trick. The options are endless when you truly reflect on what makes you, YOU!

Right now, it is okay to be less than our perfect selves. It is not about the number of times you fall, but rather the way you pick yourself up and push on. Remember to find the silver linings – find new ways to connect and build relationships, find a routine that makes you feel whole, use this extra time to get back into something you love.

While many children and families will continue look to our region’s childcare providers for a sense of comfort and familiarity during these strange times, it is important that our educators and providers take care of themselves first.

It is extremely important to remember that you are dealing with a direct trauma, also, and to be kind to yourself. These new times have pushed us to work better together, to find gratitude and optimism, to be our best selves, and to remember that we are ALL in this together, even if it may be virtually.

United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.

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