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Supporting students
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How families and caregivers can support students

How families and caregivers can support students


How families and caregivers can support students

  • Take care of yourself. Really. You and your feelings matter.
  • Children will take their cues from you.  Just as they share in your moments of joy, they will also share in your pain. Please be sure that you don’t give them more of your pain than they can manage.
  • Provide as much consistency as possible. Be available even if they don’t seem to need you. Just be present. This helps to promote feelings of safety and security.
  • Attend top the physical needs; make referrals and connections to those who can help.
  • Focus any conversations on feelings and be an active, avid listener.
  • Sometimes they just don’t want to talk about it. And that is okay.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen.

Supporting by Listening through grief, loss, or other strong emotions

Most often, what people want most is someone to talk to about their experience:

  •  Someone to care
  •  Someone to really listen
  •  Someone to lean on or cry with

How to let people know you are listening

  • Actively listen when someone needs to talk: turn toward the speaker, speak calmly, listen more than speak, summarize, reflect. During remote connection, this also means striving to make the virtual space free from other distractions.
  •  Make eye contact if appropriate and strive for a warm facial expression
  •  Listen more, talk less
  •  Your compassionate presence is more important than your words.
  •  Try not to interrupt.
  •  When you do speak, do it in a calm, warm tone
  •  Label, summarize, and mirror the feelings the other person is expressing.
  •  Do ask questions to clarify.

Things NOT to say

  • I know how you feel.
  • Let’s talk about something else.
  • You should work toward getting over this.
  • You are strong enough to deal with this.
  • I know how you feel. (But it’s okay to say, “I feel sad too.”)
  • You’ll feel better soon.
  • You need to relax.
  • Also, don’t judge.  Questions like “Why?” and “Why not?”and evaluating the worth of what someone else did or didn’t do don’t help.

Behaviors to watch for

Your child may show some of these behaviors immediately or days, weeks, or even months after an incident. If these last for a prolonged time or seem to get worse rather than better, reach out to your health care provider.

  •     Shock/denial
  •     Restlessness, anger, aggressive behavior
  •     Sleeping or eating difficulties
  •     Headaches, tummy aches, body aches
  •     Withdrawal
  •     Sadness, tearfulness
  •     Poor concentration
  •     Unexpected fears and worries
  •     Acting younger than their age
  •     School avoidance

Resources for supporting your child

Minneapolis Public Schools mental health support

MPS Caring Corner

7 Ways to calm a Young Brain in Trauma

Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health: Discussing Traumatic Events with Youth

National PTA: discussing difficult topics with your children

Child Mind: Supporting Families During Covid-19