Hello and Welcome to my Blog, Jewel Noir!

I am Dr. Kimberly A. Gordon Biddle, an Emeritus Professor from Sac State and an author of textbooks and children’s books (PB & MG). I started out with humble beginnings, being raised in poverty by a single parent mom in a rural village in Illinois. I was educated at the University of Redlands with a Double BA in Psychology and Music, where I graduated Cum Laude. Then I continued my education at Stanford University GSE, where I obtained a PhD in Child and Adolescent Development. After 30 years in the field, 28 years as a Professor, I am retired and focused on helping others with my writing. This monthly blog is one way that I am helping. I hope it is informative and helpful to those who read it.

How Books Can Help Children Process Trauma: An Interview with Veronika Kolesnikov

Posted November 17th, 2021
  1. How does trauma, Covid‐19 trauma in particular, impact children’s development and emotional expression?

    Children have experienced a lot of changes since COVID‐19 started. According to Borbas et al. (2021), children and families have experienced physical and mental well‐being difficulties due to pandemics such as COVID‐19. Research by Duan et al. (2020), showed that children’s and adolescents’ disclosures of psychosocial distress significantly increased during the COVID‐19 pandemic compared to data before the pandemic.

    Some children have lost their loved ones; others have had family members fighting with the virus. Some children and their families have been displaced from their homes or experienced homelessness and housing insecurities. Research by Duan et al. (2020), showed that children in households that were experiencing greater economic difficulties experienced more psychological wellbeing issues.

    Duan et al. (2020) also explained that the psychological effect from COVID‐19 has been higher for minority communities. They stated that, “the distribution of any psychological toll associated with COVID-19, may be disproportionately experienced by children of these communities, thus exacerbating inequalities in the negative health impacts of COVID-19.” (p.2)

    Due to the COVID‐19 pandemic, there were a lot of changes for children to cope with. Everything shut down including schools, libraries, parks and other places that supported children’s socioemotional wellbeing. This was a huge shock for children. According to CDC (2021), “Disruptions in these routines and the sudden loss of usual caregivers due to the need to physically distance can be traumatic for young children.” (papa.2) Moreover, according to Stanford Health 2020, 1 in 10 families experienced a decline in mental health and deteriorating behavioral problems in children. According to Hanetz‐Gamliel (2021) these drastic modifications significantly affected families, their routines and emotional wellbeing.

    Children were also affected during the transition to online instruction due to various reasons including the lack of access to technology, which affected their academic achievements and socioemotional wellbeing. According to UNICEF, At least 463 million children worldwide were unable to access remote learning during COVID‐19 school closures in 2020.

    Through all of this, children experienced significant social changes including an inability to play and Interact with other children, socialize with their grandparents and relatives, practice their social skills and cope with their emotions. Borbas et al. (2021) stated that, “for children and adolescents, positive peer‐relationships, the ability to pursue hobbies and educational opportunities are affected.” (p.1)

    Furthermore, research by Jiao et al. (2020) showed that children’s behavior and psychological wellbeing has been affected, additionally stating that “Clinging, inattention, and irritability were the most severe psychological conditions demonstrated by the children in all age groups.” (p.265) Children have experienced a lot of loss and difficulties since the COVID‐19 pandemic began. It is important to understand how children were affected in order to create support systems for them and their families.

  2. Can you share some statistics and facts about how Covid‐19 trauma traumatically impacted children?

    1. At least 463 million children worldwide were unable to access remote learning during COVID‐19 school closures in 2020 (UNICEF 2020)

    2. The global socioeconomic crisis caused by the COVID‐19 pandemic could push 142 million more children into monetary poor households by the end of the year, according to projections as of November 2020 (UNICEF 2020)

    3. One in 10 families reported worsening mental health for themselves as well as worsening behavioral health for their children. (Stanford Health 2020)

    4. A research study in Italy on the emotional impact of the covid 19 quarantine in children and adolescents found (Orgiles & Delvecchio, 2020):

      1. Participants included 1143 parents of children aged 3 to 18 years who completed a survey about the effects of the quarantine on their children, compared to before the home confinement period.

      2. The study found 85.7% of parents reported changes in their children’s emotions and behaviors during the quarantine.

      3. The most frequently observed changes were difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%).

      4. About 75% of parents reported feeling stressed about the quarantine situation. Parental stress was associated with increased reports of emotional and behavioral symptoms in their children.

  3. What roles can books and children’s literature play in helping children with COVID‐19 trauma and emotional expression?

    As adults, these changes have drastically affected our socioemotional well being. How about children? It is important to understand how children have been affected and to discuss the role of literacy in bringing healing, community, education and support.

    It is vital to use literacy as a tool to help children understand their emotions, to process their trauma, loss, anxieties and fears. Bennett et al. (2021) stated, “increased access to books can contribute to students’ reading and academic achievement.” (P.794) During the COVID‐19 epidemic, these researchers created collaboration between a community organization and an educational institution where they increased access to books for children in low socioeconomic communities. They found that, “access to multicultural books offered children in this initiative a sense of connectedness to community and, importantly, affirmation of racial/cultural identity during heightened global health and civil rights crises.” (Bennett et al. 2020, p.794)

    The American Psychological Association posted an article, Books to Help Kids Cope with COVID‐19 in which they highlight the authors Growe and Burch 2020 of the book “A Kids Guide to Coronavirus”, which helps children understand the pandemic and to help children create coping strategies for mental well‐being. Since COVID‐19 started there are many picture books that discuss various topics including: understanding what coronavirus is, coping with loss, anxiety, fears, social distancing, grieving and more. Children’s books are such an important tool that can be used by caregivers and teachers to help children during this difficult time.

    Zero to Thrive created a resource page “Helping Young Kids Through the Coronavirus (COVID‐19) Crisis” in which they explain how COVID‐19 can affect children, what signs to look out for, how to help children cope and alternatives to social activities. Furthermore, they provide a list of books that can help children navigate COVID‐19 and create coping strategies.

  4. Name a few specific books and how they can help children with COVID‐19 trauma?

    1. When the World Closed: A magical adventure to inspire social & emotional growth during isolation; E.E. Thorgaard, Arcus Solutions, 1736185918 (This book empowers children aged 5‐9 years to navigate their feelings and reignite their imaginations during the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, lockdowns, and quarantines. It is written to encourage social and emotional development and resilience)

    2. The Invisible String; Patrice Karst, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 031648623X (This book is a helpful tool for children to cope with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this story the mother shares with her children that there are intangible yet unbreakable connections between us all.)

    3. The Boy with Big, Big Feelings; Britney Winn Lee, 150645450X, Beaming Books (This is a story about a boy coping with a variety of feelings both positive and negative. In this story, the boy learns to celebrate his emotions. This book is relatable especially to children experiencing anxiety and extreme emotions.)

    4. And the People Stayed Home; Kitty O’Meara, Tra Publishing, 1734761784 (This is a thoughtful poem about the pandemic, quarantine and our shared experience. It promotes the possibility of profound healing for people and the planet.)

    5. Outside, Inside; LeUyen Pham, Roaring Brook Press, 1250798353 (this is about the transition into quarantine, it shows that protecting ourselves and the ones we love is heroic and that we got stronger inside because of this action of love and hope.)

  5. What are your degrees, history, experiences, and expertise when it comes to Child Development, Trauma, Emotional Expression, and Children’s Literature?

    1. Experience: Lecturer at California State University in the Child and Adolescent Development program under the College of Education, Sacramento & Sacramento City College in the Early Childhood Education department

    2. Instruction of courses: Child and Adolescent Development, Human Development & Marriage & Intimate Relationships (formerly at Sierra College)

    3. Education:

      1. Master of Arts in Child Development, Concentration in Theory & Research

      2. Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Minor in French

    4. Research/Advocacy Experience

      1. Expertise in Research in Human Trafficking, which is quite traumatic for children. (Conference presenter at MidWest Political Science Association, American Association of Behavioral & Social Sciences, International Convention of Psychological Sciences

      2. Founder of Bridging the Divide: Empowering Local Higher Education Institutions with Tools to Combat Human Trafficking Research and Policy program;

      3. Developing Research Focus ‐ Literacy & Cognitive Development; multiple conference presentations at Charlotte C Huck Children’s Literature Festival (Literacy, Abstract Thinking & Gardening; Every Child has a Story)

      4. Working on two children’s picture books. First book’s topic is on socioemotional development specifically self‐esteem. The second book’s topic is on science & girl’s empowerment

  6. Can you share a research article or two related to this topic?

    1. Orgilès M, Morales A, Delvecchio E, et al. Immediate psychological effects of the COVID‐19 quarantine in youth from Italy and Spain. PsyArXiv. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://psyarxiv.com/5bpfz/

    2. Duan L, Shao X, Wang Y, et al. An investigation of mental health status of children and adolescents in China during the outbreak of COVID‐19. J Affect Disord. 2020;275:112-118.

    3. Jiao, W. Y., Wang, L. N., Liu, J., Fang, S. F., Jiao, F. Y., & Pettoello‐Mantovani, M., et al. (2020). Behavioral and emotional disorders in children during the COVID‐19 epidemic. Journal of Pediatrics, 221, 264‐266.e1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.03.013.

Thank you!

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