COVID19 – is it the Perfect Teaching Moment?


Most of what we’re seeing this last fortnight has been a mixture of horror stories and humour, the kind we Irish are particularly good at in times of adversity. Good old fashioned denial has its place.

But it’s been mostly horror hasn’t it?

Nothing is as contagious as fear.

I am reminded of the story of the Stock Market Crash 100 years ago.

“Public panic in the days after the stock market crash led to hordes of people rushing to banks to withdraw their funds in a number of “bank runs,” and investors were unable to return their money because bank officials had invested the money in the market.

This led to massive bank failures and further deepened an already dire financial situation.

Many analysts claim that the press also played a key role in contributing to the sense of panic that exacerbated the stock market crash.”

Julie Marks 2019

Sound familiar?

We are being fed a lot of fear and very little hope about this pandemic. And there is hope.

We know what we need to do to keep ourselves healthy and safe (hygiene, social distancing, not gathering in large numbers, isolating if symptomatic). You might be sick of hearing these things, but these are the things we need to do for now.


No more, no less.

We know that a small but significant part of the population is at real risk of COVID-19, and we know that we are collectively responsible to keep those people safe. Terrifying the living daylights out of each other is not helpful to anyone.

Today I walked on the beach near where I live. There were so many people out, more than on an average summer’s day. The hum of conversation and laughter was welcome and gorgeous. Happy dogs, happy kids, happy people.

pic by Tomás Mulcahy

A child wandered over towards me, about 20 or more meters away, and her parent shouted to her – “Stay away from that woman!!!”

First time for everything I suppose…

“What’s the distance again?” child called back. “TWO METERS” the scared parent yelled, gesturing at her wildly to get away. The child looked a little puzzled, she was clearly old enough to know how long a meter is, and she went back.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking people to not be scared. I understand this fear, I feel it. But equally, I’m aware that it’s being whipped up frenzy style by the media. We need to stay logical and reasoned to get through this.

I saw a meme that reminded me of one of my favourite words – adversity – and how it always presents an opportunity to teach. I thought of the complaints of people being unable to buy necessities because others “got there first”. Of people fighting over toilet paper… I’m thinking of people who are unwell and afraid to go out. I’m thinking of that parent and how genuinely scared they were. Of other people who think their good health and age means they can mix with others (virus parties???!!! WTAF) without truly considering those others – and their loved ones – who might be vulnerable.

We don’t know the health status of the people around us – sometimes even those close to us. For all I know that child today has a health condition which puts her at greater risk. We mustn’t judge the fear that others feel. But we can – should – judge the risk and assess that which makes it worse for us, intent on grabbing headlines and baiting clicks, rather than acknowledging this new reality and working together to survive it.

Which most of us will – most without even getting very sick.

So I’m also thinking of those who are being so careful, patient, generous, flexible and considerate. I’m seeing offers made by strangers to each other online to do shopping, to check on elderly neighbours, making suggestions of ways to ease the fear and work for those who are more vulnerable. And it’s so lovely.

People often ask me and colleagues of mine how to teach Resilience. Well right now we have the ultimate naturally occurring teaching moment: in getting through this, we must remember that everything we do teaches those younger than us how to behave.


COVID-19 is providing us with
a golden opportunity to
teach our kids how to deal with uncertainty,
fear and anxiety.
We get to decide whether to teach them to panic,
to believe poor news sources,
to be greedy, self-centred or careless…
OR we can teach them resilience, patience, kindness,
thoughtfulness, and empathy.
WE choose. Let’s choose wisely.
They won’t remember the virus in 10 years.
But they will remember how we dealt with it.
And that will inform how they deal with
future stresses.

💙 Stay well 💙

If you want or need to know how this is affecting my practice, and the practice of many colleagues click here: (updated when/if things change)

ps If you were that parent today – I get it. I do.

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