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