Emotional disturbance into consideration

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Teens and younger children may suffer from emotional disturbance at some point during their school days. Parents arguing or divorcing, relatives ill health, and problems at home can leave students upset, angry and confused. Having to cope with emotional problems at school can make learning difficult and lead to behavioural problems. Taking a child’s emotional state into consideration in the classroom can help them to heal, and give them better opportunities to learn, despite difficult times.

Some children may let you know they’re emotionally under the weather. At other times you may hear rumours from other students, be informed by parents, or notice a change in the child’s behaviour. A child who alters their behaviour in the classroom may be showing signs of going through personal trauma or difficulties.

A teachers job, is of course, to help students learn. One way to do so is to make sure, to the best of your ability, that the student is as receptive to receiving and understanding knowledge as they can be. Emotional disturbance can prevent a child from being able to concentrate in the classroom, and may also make them tearful, argumentative or disruptive.

While you can’t solve all of a disturbed child’s problems, even if you want to, you can make their learning experience easier by being thoughtful and understanding. A child who’s having difficulties won’t want their problems pointed out, so treating them especially differently from other students won’t be helpful. However, making an effort to include them when they seem extra quiet, and offering them encouragement and support will help tremendously.

If an emotionally disturbed student is badly behaved in the classroom, you can’t afford to completely overlook their behaviour, as this would set a bad example to other students. You can though, take a disruptive child aside, and privately give them the opportunity to open up to you and share some of their troubles.

Some schools provide a counselling service for students who need to unburden themselves and seek advice. A child who shows signs of needing help may benefit from seeing a counsellor confidentially, where they can speak freely with a professional who won’t discuss their problems with anyone else, unless the child’s perceived to be in danger.

Being a teacher is a responsible, and sometimes stressful job, in more ways than one. Dealing effectively with students who have problems outside of the classroom, which they bring into it, is just one aspect of teaching which requires kindness and an intelligent, but sympathetic response.You can best take students with emotional disturbance into consideration in the classroom, by being observant of their behaviour, and by taking positive action when needed. By lending a listening ear, and possibly a shoulder to cry on, you can help a student to feel less anxious at school when their personal life is up in arms.

Bridget Webber
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