Many people are having trouble accepting the COVID-19 crisis as something real that requires hard and strict responses. Their resistance falls into several levels.*
At Level One: They believe COVID-19 is No Problem. “It will die off on its own, especially when the weather changes.
At Level Two: They may accept that COVID-19 is a problem, but they also think it is Not Serious. “It’s just like any other flu and doesn’t require any special responses.”
At Level Three: They accept that COVID-19 is a serious problem, but they believe there is No Solution. “It will cause us all to be sick because too many people are ignoring the recommendations.”
At Level Four: They accept that precautions can make a difference for some people, but NOT THEM. “The recommendations are just too hard to do; I can’t give up my usual activities.
Here are things you need to know in order to try to persuade people to change their thinking so they will be safer during this COVID-19 crisis.
People usually only move one step at a time.
If they are stuck at total denial – NO PROBLEM – they might move one step to the position of seeing COVID-19 as a problem, but one that is NOT SERIOUS.
From NOT SERIOUS, they may move again, but only one step more to where they see COVID-19 as serious, but still believe there is NO SOLUTION.
From NO SOLUTION, the next move is likely to where they think that solutions are for others, NOT THEM.
People usually need some time after they change their thinking before they are open to changing even more. That is why it takes time and repeated attempts to help a person move through several levels to a CAN DO position. CAN DO is the goal – to believe there is one small step they can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
It is hard to convince people who believe there is NO PROBLEM to begin following protective measures. It is much easier to move people from NOT THEM to CAN DO. So, if you have a loved one saying they understand that precautions can be good to do, but can’t see how they can do them, that person, with your help, may be willing to try a precaution or two.
People who are at the NO PROBLEM and NOT SERIOUS level are the hardest to convince, but still worth the effort, especially in cases like COVID-19 where health and safety is at stake. You can work on NO PROBLEM folks, but take it one step at a time. Just work on the fact that there is a problem. Get them there and wait a while before you work on convincing them how serious it is.
Likewise, you can work on NO SOLUTION folks, but take it one step at a time. Just work on the fact that some people are taking precautions and they are helping. Get them there and wait a while before you work on convincing them that they can try one or two precautions themselves.
Getting people to move along these levels is an art and not a science. There is no sure-fire way to persuade people and no one way that will work for everyone. It can take information, warnings, requests, offers to help, etc. One thing that works well with many people at any of the levels is nurture – letting them know how important they are to you and to the world – letting them know how much you care about them and want them to be safe.
Examples of attempts to move people from level to level
Getting from NOT THEM to CAN DO:
Josh: “I just don’t know how I can protect myself; I have to work.”
Kim: “I brought you some sanitizing wipes for at home and at the office. Will you at least start wiping down the surfaces you and others touch during the workday? That would be a start. Add lots of handwashing, and you will be a lot safer than you are now.”
Josh: “OK. I’ll take these to work.”
Getting from NO SOLUTION to NOT THEM:
Corona: “Americans are not going to stop their activities the way they did in South Korea.”
Chuck: “Please, just think about what this means for you and your family. You
are important to me. In our state most things are shut down, so we have an opportunity to slow down the virus.”
Corona: “I just don’t know how I can protect myself; I have to work.”
Getting from NOT SERIOUS to NO SOLUTION:
Laurel: I see that COVID-19 exists, but people are overreacting.
Sonny: “South Korea is a country that took strong measures and they are seeing better numbers now.”
Laurel: “Americans are not going to stop their activities the way they did in South Korea.”
Getting from NO PROBLEM to NOT SERIOUS:
Thritee: “The virus is just a fear tactic.”
Bart: “I am hard to convince, but this article totally convinced me. Will you let me send it to you? It explains the virus in simple, but scientific terms.”
Thritee: (after reading the article) “I see that COVID-19 exists, but people are overreacting.”
*Levels of Discounting is a concept from copyrighted publications by Jean Illsley Clarke et al.
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
- For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
- Use the blog for discussion topics
- Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
- For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
- Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
- Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
- Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
- What would be your advice on this topic?
- What was left out of this article?
- If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
- Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
- Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
- The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
- Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
- Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.