Handle With Care for Schools
Teaching the Professionals of tomorrow
Provide a Safe and Supportive Environment (Be the caring adult)
- Maintain usual routines, and warn children if you will be doing something out of the ordinary.
- Provide a safe place to talk so the child knows it’s okay to talk about what happened
- Be aware of other children’s reactions to the child and the information they share. Protect the traumatized child from peers’ curiosity and protect classmates from the details of a child’s trauma.
Understand Behavioral Challenges
- Give children choices; feeling more in control can help children feel safe.
- Set clear, firm limits for inappropriate behavior and develop logical, rather than punitive, consequences.
- Recognize that behavioral problems, even the most disruptive, may be transient and driven by trauma-related anxiety.
- Anticipate difficult times and provide additional support. Many situations may be reminders. If you can identify reminders, you can help prepare the child for the situation.
- Understand that children cope by re-enacting trauma through play or through their interactions with others. Resist their efforts to draw you into a negative repetition of the trauma.
Modify Teaching Strategies. You might:
- Shorten assignments
- Allow additional time to complete assignments
- Give permission to leave class to go to a designated adult (such as a counselor or school nurse) if feelings become overwhelming.
- Provide additional support for organizing and remembering assignments
What NOT to do…
- Press for more information or question “What happened?”
- Draw attention to the student or treat them differently
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, NCTSN.org