Dr. Edward Selby shares advice with Rutgers Today on helping children navigate changes in a difficult time


A few days after the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it – closing schools in 46 states and requiring nonessential workers to stay at home – Rutgers psychology professor Edward Selby sat cross-legged on the floor, forming a triangle with his two young children.

He guided 7-year-old Briella and Kieran, age 4, through a discussion of what an emotion is, and what emotions they were all feeling at the moment: sadness about missing school, worry about what the future would bring, happiness at spending time at home with mom and dad.

The two-minute break, what Selby calls a “mindful moment,” was such a hit that it’s become a daily – and highly anticipated – part of the family’s new routine.


“It’s a way of helping kids to deal with their emotions, learning to understand the difference between such things as anger, fear and anxiety,” says Selby, a professor in Rutgers’ Department of Psychology and director of clinical training for the department’s doctoral students at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

As the days of forced confinement grind on, Selby and other academics at Rutgers are drawing on years of research and experience to help families develop strategies to deal with a situation that is anything but normal – and which may not go back to normal any time soon.

Under orders from Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey residents are encouraged to stay home and avoid interactions in public to help stem the rise of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus that has claimed the lives of over 22,000 people worldwide.


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