Be like Dr. Henry

A calm measured approach to the coronavirus pandemic is working

Do you remember dunce caps, detention or the strap?

If you don’t, you have grown up in a more enlightened time. Disciplinary tools such as these have fallen out of favour because educators now know punishment and shaming are not an effective means of changing behaviour.

We still have time outs, and they’re not always used properly, but when they are, as a reinforcement of good behaviour rather than a punishment for bad, they can be effective.

At this point, it has been about a month since B.C. started getting serious about physical distancing and self-isolation protocols.

LAST WEEK: A salute

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 have steadily risen and the death toll mounts, the measures implemented by the government have escalated.

Nerves are getting frayed.

Police are seeing an uptick is domestic disturbance calls.

Neighbours are turning on neighbours.

We are seeing calls for public shaming of people who appear (and the keyword here is appear) to be ignoring these measures.

We are seeing growing hostility and calls for fines and even arrests.

Some politicians are starting to politicize the issue instead of working across the aisle to address an unprecedented situation.

MORE EDITORIAL: Empathy is critical

None of this is helping.

On Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, standing by herself at a podium on the stage in the Legislature press theatre in front of a whole bunch of empty seats delivered her daily statistics. The news was encouraging. The curve appears to be bending.

She calmly asked everybody to “hold our line.”

Bylaw officers across the province, who have been tasked with enforcing the physical distancing directive, are finding a gentle reminder is more effective than punishment and shaming.

A carrot, not a stick.

For the most part, British Columbians want to do, and are doing, the right thing.

We realize these are very stressful times, indeed. We need to be like Dr. Henry.

It’s not going to get any easier over the next few weeks, but don’t punish yourself.

Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and, if you start to see it getting the better of you, maybe give yourself a time out.

Go for a walk, take some deep breaths, remind yourself of the good things you have going for you and that you will get through these challenges.

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