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Tips for Teachers

Things you might expect:

  • Students may come to school with nothing
    • Bookbags
      • Supplies -- consider having additional school supplies on hand
    • Lunch or snacks
      • Students may not have access to food before and after school
  • Stability may be disrupted
    • Places and people a child considers safe may be unavailable
    • Sleep patterns may be significantly disrupted
    • Parents and caregivers may be distracted, stressed and highly emotional themselves

Ways children can react to stress:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Change in appetite, sleep, nightmares
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Poor attention span and difficulty concentrating
  • Avoidance, disengagement and shutting down
  • Anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt and irritability
  • Drug or alcohol use

Helping students cope:

  • Gym or exercise time -- offer more time for movement
  • Journaling or other age appropriate coloring, art, or crafts
  • Build quiet time into the day
  • Ask students what helps them in difficult times, and encourage self-care

Seek help for a student when:

  • You notice that the stress is interfering with their ability to participate in the classroom
  • A child is withdrawn or unable to engage in classroom activities or with friends
  • The child engages in
    • Obsessive talking, writing, or drawing about death and violence
    • Aggressive talk that does not diminish with time
    • Self-injury, talk about suicidal thoughts or making plans to harm others


  • Look for changes in the child’s normal behavior
  • Be prepared for all emotions
  • All kids do not react the same way
  • What one person perceives as a traumatic event may not be seen that way by others
  • Take into consideration the age, development and resiliency of the student
  • A history of trauma can make some more susceptible to tragic or violent events; others can become more resilient

If you or a child in your care is in crisis, contact:

4901 Forest Park Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
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