Many students face traumatic events throughout their early and academic years that can impact them immensely. Although dealing with traumatic situations is considered a part of life, students may not have the emotional ability to work through the issues they face at such a young age. Coupled with the burden of education, coping can become increasingly challenging at times. If left unattended, these issues can manifest into more significant problems that affect the course of students’ lives.
Educational institutes need to consider the various factors that may impact students mentally. School/college isn’t just a place to study but serves as a refuge for many. It is also a place for personal as well as professional development. If teachers and other staff members can safely guide students through any traumatic event, they can help change their life for the better.
If you’re interested in learning how to help your students coping with any traumatic event, continue reading below as we unfold some essential tips to assist.
Arrange for crisis counseling
There are many steps teachers and educational staff members can take personally to make the student feel safe and secure. However, professional help should always be the first go-to solution when helping youngsters cope with trauma. Some events can be too much for students to deal with on their own immediately. Trauma resulting from bullying, domestic abuse, natural disasters, or even the sudden death of a loved one can significantly impact their academic and personal lives. Teachers may find it hard to adequately address the immediate needs of the child in such a time. Therefore, a crisis counselor should step in to help.
Crisis counseling is an immediate response to any emotional/mental upheaval that focuses on helping the client (in this case, the student) address their immediate emotional needs. It involves developing a plan to cope with the traumatic event and managing the support the child may require. Furthermore, crisis counselors often take more practical measures to assist students, such as calling CPS, arranging for a guardian, or alerting the relevant authorities, depending on the case.
Create a positive space
Many teachers create positivity in the classroom by encouraging inclusion and peer support – which is good. However, an often overlooked area is the classroom layout. Ambiance mays seem trivial, but the décor, lighting, and structure can play a vital part in making any space seem oppressive, triggering, and unsafe. Or warm, welcoming, and safe. When dealing with students that are coping with trauma, teachers should provide them with space where they feel mentally and physically relaxed. A jarring, unwelcoming layout can often build/enhance negative emotions and arouse discomfort.
Creating a more positive space doesn’t mean overhauling the entire layout. Instead, adding warm, natural lighting and warm colors can help boost mood immensely. Adding comfortable seating and positive messages can also go a long way in making your classroom better for students struggling with emotional issues.
Furthermore, creating a dedicated stress management space is an incredibly effective way of allowing students to catch their breath and relax if they ever feel overwhelmed. While this step is beneficial for students struggling with trauma, it can be incredibly helpful for the entire classroom.
Be present and accepting
A vital part of helping students deal with trauma is simply being there for them each day and extending support as a teacher/mentor. Students struggling with traumatic events can act out in various ways, some of which can be pretty disruptive o the overall learning environment. However, it’s essential to consider the student’s circumstances when planning any intervention and ensure they feel supported and understood.
Many students going through troubling situations such as parents’ divorce or bullying often act out because they feel alone and alienated. In such cases, your support as a mentor can help challenge this belief and bring them back into having a fruitful academic journey.
Listen to your students verbally and non-verbally, and address any concerns they raise or any destructive behavior they exhibit. Acknowledge how they feel, and give them space to let down their guard and begin healing from their trauma.
Build a cohesive approach
While teachers can control events inside the classroom or school/college premises, they have little control over what happens outside the institution’s boundaries. However, building a cohesive approach to dealing with students coping with trauma can help change that. Pairing up with educators, psychologists, and other relevant parties can help create a strategy that extends beyond the classroom to make the entire school a safe space. Having a trauma-informed approach is imperative, with over 50% of students experiencing a severe case of it at any point in their early lives. Creating such an approach can prevent or reduce the impact of any similar incident in the future and strengthen students’ emotional capabilities to cope better.
Helping students coping with trauma can seem like an incredibly challenging task. Still, with the right approach, it can be easy. Merely lending support can go a long way in changing the student’s outlook and putting them on the road to healing. The points mentioned above can go a long way in helping them cope and feeling welcomed in the school environment. Even if you can help them just a little bit, consider it a job well done.
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