How to Manage Uncertainty

How to Manage Uncertainty Video


Pre-Video Conversation:

Over the past few months there has been a lot of uncertainty. How long is quarantine going to last? When will I get to see my friends? What will school be like? There have been a lot of unknowns and not knowing is hard. One thing that was hard for me was___________________.

What are some things that have felt uncertain for you during this time?

Today we are going to watch a video about how to feel better when we don’t have all the answers. We are going to go back in time with Cory, Tina, and Pops as they learn to focus on what they can control like their thoughts and how they respond to situations. Notice how Pops helps Cory and Tina focus on the positive. Focusing on the good things can help us feel betterwhen we don’t have all the answers.

Post Video Conversation:

How was Tina feeling at the beginning of the video?

How was she feeling at the end?

What helped Tina feel better?

What can you do to help yourself feel better when things are uncertain?

Whole Group Activity:

Make a T-chart of what is in your control and what is not. Brainstorm things that are in our
control and things that are not.

For example: I can control my attitude, my reaction, my behavior (e.g., washing my hands,
wearing a mask)…

I can’t control: other people’s attitude, when school will be normal again, etc…


• Thank the Helpers
• A change that ended up being great
• I Choose the Bright Side

Home Connection:

• Send Parents & Guardians Mental Health Expert Advice on Managing Uncertainty
• Share a story with your child(ren) about a time when you had to have flexible thinking. Discuss how having a growth mindset with positive thinking ended up helping you in the long run. Have your child share about a time when they were having a problem. Discuss how flexible and positive thinking might impact how we feel?
• Draw a picture of a problematic situation that ended up having a great outcome. Talk about how your positive thinking affected the outcome.


It is highly recommended that you give students the option to use their paper puppets when sharing in class conversations. For many students using the puppet helps them to be more comfortable, open, and honest.

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Draw or Write your responses:

Get a piece of paper or print out the activity pdf in English or activity pdf in Spanish.

Think of all of the people that have been helping us through this time. Brainstorm a list of helpers in your community (e.g., doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, grocery workers, delivery people, janitors, etc)…



Which type of helper was new to your list?

How might you thank the helpers in your community?

How does it feel to let others know you appreciate them?

Write a thank you note or draw a picture for a helper telling them how much you appreciate their help during this time.

I am thankful for your help because ___________________________________________
You are really good at_______________________. Thank you for taking care of our community!

Journal Entry:

What change happened during this time that ended up being really great?
Or…Draw and/or write about something that changed during quarantine that ended up being really great.


What were your original thoughts when you experienced the changes of quarantine?

How did the change end up turning out well?

Did you have to change your thinking about the quarantine? If so, how?

Managing Uncertainty

Draw two great things that happened during quarantine in the lenses.


Since a lot of things will not be normal in the upcoming months, it is important to keep the things we can control normal (routines, expectations, schedules). Focusing on what you can control will help you and your kids feel calmer. One thing we can control is our thoughts and our reactions to situations. Sometimes we have to train our brains to focus on the positive. One of the number one predictors of success in school is a child’s healthy sense of optimism (Brigman & Webb, 2010). If we can turn our pessimistic thinking into optimistic thinking it will impact our feelings and, ultimately, our actions. This is an ongoing feedback loop (see diagram below). Make an effort to restructure your irrational thinking (“nothing good EVER happens to me”) and replace it with more rational thinking (“What can I learn from this challenging event?”). Once you are able to master this yourself you can model it and teach it to your students/child(ren). You will be amazed at how much faster you are able to bounce back with more optimistic thinking. Here are some tips for you to practice and teach your child(ren)/students for managing uncertain times:

• Think about what is in your control and shift your focus to what is in your immediate arsenal for helping (yourself or others).

• Start a gratitude journal. It will help improve self-esteem, understanding of others and optimism.

• Practice self-care (exercise and sleep are two productive ways to feel better about uncertainty and have a multitude of other health benefits).

• Take time to breathe. When was the last time you took a deep belly breath? Set an alarm on your phone.

• Avoid anxious self-talk.

• Try to communicate excitement about returning to school in whatever form it may be.

• Create a “Think Space” or “Calm Place” in your classroom/home with resources for children to calm down and think (e.g., glitter wand, stress ball, Play-Doh, crayons/paper, feelings chart, social stories, etc.).


Brigman, G., & Webb, L. (2010). Student Success Skills: Classroom manual (3rd ed.). Boca Raton,
FL: Atlantic Education Consultants.

Think Space: Educating the Heart and the Mind for Success in the Classroom and Beyond

Therapist Aid: Thoughts, Feeling and Actions

As you are providing support for your youngster, be sure to notice any significant changes in behavior, affect, demeanor, etc. and refer as necessary. As always, if you are concerned about harm to self or others, increase supervision and report as required by your state. For emergency situations call 9-1-1. According to Poland (2020), your child/student may need additional support if they exhibit these signs of stress:

• Excessive stress or worry

• Feeling “on edge”

• Changes in appetite, energy or activity levels

• Sleeping problems

• Concentration problems

• Increased irritability

• Increased drug and alcohol use

• Thoughts of hopelessness or suicide

Poland, S. (2020, June 12). COVID-19: School Re-entry…Promoting Social and Emotional Wellness

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255) [24/7 Hotline]
1-888-628-9454 (Spanish)
1-800-799-4889 (TTY)

Crisis Text Line:
Text “MHFA” to 741741 to speak with a compassionate, trained crisis counselor, a volunteer who has been trained to help with problem-solving and will address the caller’s situation.


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