“Lockdown: Everyone’s at Home!” – with Dr. Michal Agus Fox

School psychologist Dr. Agus Fox discusses parenting during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Learn how to help children cope with new emotions, maintaining learning environments for children at home, and guiding kids through the intense and uncertain situation.

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Dr. Michal Agus Fox, a school psychologist, discusses ways that families are coping with coronavirus and sheltering in place. As a school psychologist, Dr. Fox helps students and their families bridge social and emotional health with academics, and has noticed several commonalities among the ways children are experiencing quarantine and the coronavirus. As Dr. Fox says, the current moment is like “being dropped on an island and saying, ‘let’s practice resilience and coping.’” Many children, she notes, are experiencing new emotions, like sadness, in new ways or for the first time. She urges parents to validate these feelings and to help support their kids by allowing them to participate in whatever activities spark their interests (whether that’s music, art, or simply watching TV) to help them cope with the current situation.  

It’s also difficult for parents and children alike to manage their anxieties at the current moment. Dr. Fox recommends explaining the coronavirus truthfully but within context to “allow the child to breathe,” by reminding them that it is serious but that precautions are largely being taken to protect others and that they are not likely in danger personally from the virus. She notes that it’s also important to limit news consumption and says parents should do their best to “provide emotional stability so we can ride the storm together as a family.” 

Dr. Fox also discusses ways to help children maintain a sense of routine and adjust to online learning, such as allowing them to set up a space of their own within the house to learn or relax is and to help them stick to a schedule as much as possible to simulate a school day. She notes that teachers are facing significant challenges in adjusting to online instruction, so parents should adjust their expectations. Finally, she notes that this is an excellent time to teach children about empathy through “small acts of kindness” lending a helping hand to friends, family, and neighbors.   

Dr. Michal Agus Fox is a school psychologist in a Jewish Day School in New York City. She holds a doctorate in school-clinical child psychology. She is married to Dr. Nathan Fox, and together they have four children.