Finding Calm in Chaos

Written By: Donna Campbell, M.Ed.
Advocacy Chair, Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented
Picture By: Katie Campbell-Grutsch

Gifted students often respond to uncertainty and disruption in their lives with heightened feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, and sadness.  Many are unable to cope with the intensity of their emotions and will withdraw, or act out, or become focused on worst case scenarios of the unknown future.

In effect, their minds and emotions are on overload.  Why are we all at home? Why am I not in school with my friends, or going to after school activities?  Am I going to get sick?  Will someone in my family get sick? Why is everyone afraid? What IS coronavirus?

For adults living with, teaching or loving gifted children from a distance, it is important to remember 3 things:

1. Be Present

  • Listen to the concerns of your children and allow them to express their feelings.
  • Drawing a self-portrait, sketch journaling, or creating a cartoon will give a platform for expression when words are not sufficient.

2. Be Patient

  • Stay calm. When “breaking news” about COVID19 shakes up your being, think about how your reaction may or may not add to the confusion and fear for your children.
  • Demonstrate and practice deep breathing exercises with your children to calm the stress response. This will enable everyone to think and speak more rationally.

3. Be Responsive

  • Limit television and social media time. Constant updates on COVID19 can increase anxiety for everyone. Find reputable sites on the internet for your source of factual information.  Give no more information than what the child’s age and emotional well-being will allow at that moment.  Often this is determined by the questions they ask.  Simple questions receive simple answers.  Older students can be introduced to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  These are two organizations working to respond to reduce the effect of the virus on our country and the world.
  • Be truthful and offer reassurance that adults are doing all that can be done to keep everyone safe.
  • Empower a sense of control for themselves in their lives. Kids can help by social distancing, handwashing, and sneezing or coughing into their elbows and then washing their hands again.
  • Negotiate a schedule that provides flexibility. Some work, some rest, some play and exercise. Maintaining healthy eating and sleeping patterns.

The Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development reprinted on their website, an article about discussing the coronavirus with kids. In this article is a cartoon version explaining the virus and the directions on how to create a “zine” booklet for the cartoon and a template to create your own cartoon.


Stay healthy and positive!  Let us know how AAGT can be of help!

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