Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Schools
Parents and teachers can most help traumatized children by following a structure and giving them some sense of control. Immediately after the trauma, children should be given accurate and specific information concerning their immediate safety. Adults need to acknowledge what has occurred and discuss what will happen to them next. Children should be encouraged to share their experience, but some may not be ready or willing to talk. Playing out the traumatic event, or drawing or writing about it can serve as different ways of communicating.
At home or at school, survival skills for emergencies should be taught to assist children in regaining personal control and increasing the potential for a positive outcome. Children need to know how to:
- Follow directions in an emergency (remaining in the classroom during a lockdown).
- Dial 911 or get assistance in any type of emergency.
- Report specific and dangerous circumstances.
- Tell someone "no" and mean it.
- Recognize the difference better right and wrong (appropriate vs. inappropriate touching, appropriate vs. inappropriate sharing of information, presence of appropriate vs. inappropriate people).
Teachers can support children with post traumatic stress disorder in schools by watching for signs and symptoms of it. After a child is diagnosed with the disorder by a mental health professional, educators should:
- Discourage avoidance of the event;
- Discuss the child’s feelings in a compassionate manner;
- Encourage the child’s normal activities;
- Assist the child in regaining a sense of control of his or her life; and
- Seek help from the school psychologist.
Informed parents and teachers can make the difference in avoiding lifelong physical and emotional difficulties related to post traumatic stress disorder. While professional treatment is required to cope with this disorder, parents and educators must help a child move past the trauma’s effects and lead a healthy life.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (1999). Posttraumatic stress disorder (ptsd). Retrieved October 7, 2010, from aacap.org/page.ww?name=Posttraumatic+Stress+Disorder+(PTSD)§ion=Facts+for+Families
Grosse, S.J. (2001). Children and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: What Classroom Teachers Should Know. ERIC Digest. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from www.ericdigests.org/2002-3/post.htm