Committee for Children Blog

Helping Kids Feel Safe and Supported Post-Election

Above all, children who may be experiencing traumatic reactions to the election results need to feel safe and supported at school. They need to feel accepted and understood, and may need to be protected from re-traumatization by their peers’ deliberate or accidental actions. They might need some accommodations during the day if they can’t focus. It’s important that educators respond thoughtfully to these needs.

It’s equally important that educators take care of themselves and work together to find a place of calm. Otherwise, their stress and anxiety will amplify the children’s distress. When educators use their own social-emotional skills, this will help. Then educators can use the following ways to address their student's needs.

Help Children Feel Safe and Supported

• Smile at them.
• Use open, relaxed body language and speak in a calm, warm tone of voice.
• Use respectful touches to provide assurance if needed.

Help Children Feel Accepted and Understood
Notice how they’re feeling and listen to them with empathy and compassion. They need to trust that their emotions and perspectives will be allowed and not judged.

Protect Children from Re-Traumatization
• Remind all students of the expectation for safe and respectful behavior at school.
• Reinforce additional social-emotional norms, such as empathy, care and concern, and peaceful problem-solving.
• Be quick to notice students who are mistreating others and intervene.

Provide Accommodation

• As a staff, create a place where children can go to get additional support.
• Create quiet corners in classrooms where kids can take a break if they can’t focus on learning. Add art supplies for drawing feelings, pillows, or puzzles and books to give them something else to focus on.

Bear in mind that the effects of traumatizing experiences can be long-lasting and can surface slowly over time. Continue reinforcing positive norms in your classroom to support all children and keep an eye out for children who may be struggling with unresolved anxiety or fear and may need additional help. While we can all agree that this election has taken its toll on all of us, how we move forward—in support of our own well-being, and the well-being of our children—is what matters now.