As I implied yesterday, saying good-bye to someone you love dearly, even when they're just going on a trip to another part of the world, is difficult. With children, the effects can be much more devastating.
When a child suddenly experiences a temporary loss of someone they love, it is bound to affect them emotionally, socially, academically, and sometimes even physically. The child's loved-one may not be present for a number of reasons: military deployment, incarceration, illness, job-related travel, hiding from legal troubles, gang- or mob-related hiding. The children who come to our public schools may face any one of these issues. The effects of this loss on the children can lead to a number of conditions: decreased performance in school, increased problem behaviors in school, and more.
While it is easy to become upset when a student lashes out at the teacher with some form of emotional outburst, it is important to remember this: all actions have a cause. People do things for a reason. Unless you have an idea as to why a student is acting a certain way, sometimes the best way to combat disruptive behavior is to follow a number of these suggestions:
- Breathe deeply. When you release, let your anger go out with it.
- Talk calmly and realistically with the student.
- Offer positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior.
- Offer some form of creative or expressive outlet as an academic choice for the student.
Teachers must remember that, no matter how much we love our students and want to help, we are, in most cases, not qualified to act as an actual counselor. If you notice that a child is having difficulty coping with the absent of a parent, refer them to the school psychologist or counselor. Likewise, if you're not exactly sure how to help a student or what your actions should be, don't hesitate to ask a trusted teacher, a teacher-mentor, or school counselor.
Below are a few articles and resources I've located that deal with helping children with displaced parents.