Student Well-Being

Student Well-Being / Creating Healing Classrooms / Positive and Supportive Communication with Children

Positive and Supportive Communication with Children

There is no "perfect" way to discuss a crisis with children. However, here are some guidelines to help teachers communicate more openly with their students:

In discussions of crises with children and youth, teachers should:

  • Recognize that children and youth want and need as much factual information as possible.

  • Tell students how and where they can obtain information and assistance.

  • Initiate group discussions about distressing events that many may – or may not – have experienced. Even those who have not experienced these events would have heard about them. This will help affected children feel less alone in their suffering.

  • Use realistic terms with students when discussing aspects of an accident, injury and loss.

  • Avoid euphemisms and use age-appropriate but accurate words to explain situations.

  • Allow children to discuss their own theories and ideas about what happened so that they can begin to "master" the events.

These conversations will help students discuss their worries, share their experiences and feel listened to. It may be particularly important to help dispel some of the rumors that may exist in the community and to promote positive thinking about the future.

Adapted from Lazarus, P.J. (1998). Trauma and Children. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists; Saklofske, D., Janzen, J., Hildebrand, D. and Kaufmann, L.A. (1998). Depression in Children. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists; Richman, N. (1991). Helping Children in Difficult Circumstances, A Teacher's Manual. London: Save the Children/UK.