Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event

Guides

What Teachers Can Do to Help Students

  • Resume routine as much as possible. Children tend to function better when they know what to expect. Returning to a school routine will help students feel that the troubling events have not taken control over every aspect of their daily lives. Maintain expectations of students. It doesn’t need to be 100%, but needing to do some home- work and simple classroom tasks is very helpful.
  • Be aware of signs that a child may need extra help. Students who are unable to function due to feelings of intense sadness, fear or anger should be referred to a mental health professional. Children may have distress that is manifested as physical ailments, such as head- aches, stomachaches, or extreme fatigue.
  • Help kids understand more about what happened. For example, you can mention the various kinds of help coming in, and provide positive coping ideas.
  • Consider a memorial. Memorials are often helpful to commemorate people and things that were lost. School memorials should be kept brief and appropriate to the needs and age range of the general school community. Children under four may not have the attention span to join in. A known caregiver, friend, or relative should be the child’s companion during funeral or memorial activities.
  • Reassure children that school officials are making sure they are safe. Children’s fears abate when they know that trusted adults are doing what they can to take care of them.
  • Stay in touch with parents. Tell them about the school’s programs and activities so they can be prepared for discussions that may continue at home. Encourage parents to limit their children’s exposure to news reports.
  • Take care of yourself. You may be so busy helping your students that you neglect yourself. Find ways for you and your colleagues to support one another.

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