April 7, 2020
As a licensed psychologist and parenting researcher, Beth Trammell hears about stress a lot. She’s heard about it even more in the last few weeks, as the COVID-19 epidemic takes its toll around the world, across the country, and within many family units.
Trammell, an associate professor of psychology at IU East in Richmond, wants to help. Recently, she has been partnering with local organizations and the IU East campus to host Facebook live and Zoom sessions to talk with parents about how they can communicate with their children about COVID-19. She’s also been posting guidance regularly to the blog on her website, Make Words Matter.
“During times of crisis and uncertainty,” Trammell says, “children look to adults to tell them how to feel and what to do. So it’s really important for adults to pay attention to what we’re saying.”
She’s come up with an acronym to help parents focus on five important communications goals—PRESS, which stands for prepare, reflect, explore, share, and reaSsure.
“This epidemic is really, really hard on parents because we don’t have answers and we cannot fix what is happening,” Trammell says. “I hope the PRESS acronym can help us all remember how to talk with our kids about hard things, as we 'press on' with our conversations.”
She’s also written some useful tips for helping children cope with the disappointing cascading cancellations of classes, events, and celebrations.