Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
September 2005

Tips for Students

Here are some things to think about for students who are at a new school because their families had to move after a natural disaster:

  • Millions of Americans watched the news coverage of the natural disaster and are volunteering their time and resources to help students and their families recover and rebuild their lives.

  • With so many TV channels and news reports, it's easy to get too much exposure to news about the disaster.

  • Students should remember to stay in touch with their old friends.

  • Students should tell their new teachers what will help them feel comfortable in their classes and tell them if they are having trouble concentrating or doing schoolwork.

  • Students should get involved in activities that they enjoy at school or in their new neighborhoods. They may also want to join a youth group such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or 4-H. This will help them meet new friends who share their interests.

  • Some students may find it helpful to have lunch or get together at other times during school with other students who have relocated because of the disaster.

  • Students may want to find some way to express what they're feeling by creating artwork, writing, playing music, singing in a choir or just talking to a friend or trusted adult.

  • Students should get enough sleep and exercise and eat food that is good for them.

  • Students should make time to do things they enjoy. They should play sports, read good books, go to movies, spend time with friends, go for walks or listen to music. Students should try to not dwell on the disaster or their family's situation all the time.

  • It isn't unusual for students to want a light on at night or to leave music on while they sleep. They might have nightmares for a while, but this is normal. If they still feel really upset two or three weeks after a return to their normal routine, they should tell their parents or a teacher or school counselor.

  • If students or their friends feel really upset, they should take time to talk to an adult about what happened. Some feelings can be overwhelming after a crisis, and talking to an adult can help students feel better.

  • This experience has changed students' lives. While they may not feel better immediately, most people will find that they start to feel better after a few weeks and begin to realize that things will be okay.

  • If people ask about things that students don't want to talk about, it is fine for them to say that they don't want to talk about those things.

  • When students feel anxious, it may help to find a calming activity. Doing math, working out, listening to music, making lists, doing crossword puzzles, or memorizing something sometimes helps give students a rest from worry.

  • Students may feel better if they can help someone. It may make them feel good to help at home, do some volunteer work, help make dinner or clean up, babysit a little brother or sister, or fold laundry. It can make a real difference for students to help their parents and others.

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Last Modified: 11/06/2012