October 7, 2022

Several students in your class have or are suffering from some form of trauma. Trauma can occur by an event or a series of events that trigger multiple emotions. As a result, negative emotions cause people to lose control over themselves in ordinary situations. The most common types of traumas are experiencing sexual assault, physical assault or injuries, fatal accidents, witnessing domestic violence, or the death of a loved one.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 24% of adults in the US have witnessed a traumatic event before the age of four, and 60% witness abuse or other difficult family circumstances. Traumatic childhoods usually lead into adulthood. While some children can heal over time with love and support, some struggle to live an ordinary life.

Apart from other areas of life, children who have or are suffering from various traumas face difficulties with their studies. They might not be able to focus, enjoy or give their best in class and show aggression, suicidal behavior, impulsion, irritation, or anxiety. In this situation, the responsibility lies with the staff, especially teachers, to support these students by creating a safe and nurturing environment.

If you are a teacher or someone who aims to assist students who have experienced trauma, here is what you can do to help:

Become a professional, maybe?

Consider obtaining an online degree in school counseling and empower yourself to help students. With such a qualification, you can work as a school counselor and help students identify triggers, navigate their troubles and develop coping mechanisms. Having someone to talk to on campus can prove beneficial in the long run. So step up and fill the role.

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Create a predictable environment

It is crucial to create a predictable environment for students. When they know their environment well, they will know what they will face. As a result, this will make them feel safe because the after-effects of trauma include excessive fear. Unpredictability can trigger it significantly.

Avoid making sudden changes to the timetable

New or sudden activities can trigger anxiety in some students and cause restlessness. Hence, avoiding any sudden changes to the program is necessary to ensure students continue their with day calmness and surety. However, if a transformation is imminent, informing students is crucial as to why and what will happen.

Be a friend

Trauma makes some people quiet, some stubborn, and some both. Trying to be their friend might not be acceptable to them. They might respond impulsively, but only if one is too persuasive with them. Becoming their friend means making them feel they are not alone and whether they can confide in you when they need or want to. Consequently, this can happen when you nurture them, ask them how they feel and allow them if they desire to excuse themselves from class. Create a safe space.

Make the environment reward-based

Reward them when they perform in class. Have the rest of the students appreciate and clap for them. On days when they don’t perform, reward them for trying. Encouragement goes a long way and will make students feel valued and give them a sense of belonging.

Identify their strengths and develop them

Allow traumatized students to explore themselves. By doing so, students will know what makes them happy and competent at the same time. Your part as a teacher is to observe their strengths and develop them without intimidating them. Hence, this will result in a positive self-concept, self-esteem, and dignity. Moreover, this will also result in a strong student and mentor relationship. This way, students will trust you with their fears.

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Create a mindful space

Schools should not only be a space where you develop yourself academically. It should also be an abode where you develop your mind in terms of emotions, ideas, and behaviors. This means, apart from having a library where you read books, a computer lab where you learn computers, a science lab where you do experiments, there should be a space where students are taught mindfulness. Mindfulness will allow them to be aware of their thoughts, emotions, feelings, and bodily sensations. It will result in reduced stress levels, controlled emotions, and calmness.

Promote sports

Physical activities, especially sports and exercise, have proven to help cope with trauma. Students must be given time to develop their physical strength apart from their intellect. Apart from its physical benefits, sports help reduce depression and anxiety, improve mood, helps in team-building, etc. It is an overall booster to your well-being. However, you shouldn’t push students harder to perform well. Otherwise, it will cause more stress and encourage negative responses.

Do not forget yourself in the process

As much as it is a responsibility to take care of your students, you have a responsibility to take care of yourself too. Love and take care of yourself as enthusiastically as you do your students and others around you. Do not forget yourself in the process. Remember, if you do not take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for those around you who need you.

Conclusion

Mental Health is not so much of a taboo anymore as it was back in the day. Now that this conversation is becoming more and more familiar with every passing day, it is pertinent that we learn the proper ways to help those who need it. Mental health should be commonly discussed and dealt with in schools. Taking care of the things mentioned above, you can make your classroom a safer place for your students. This will benefit them and you too, as your students will trust you and cooperate with you in class.

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