Gifts and Promises: Supporting children who are confused or frightened by events going on in the world

Learning is quite difficult or even impossible for restless or broken souls. As teachers, we wish everything would always be right, but life is hard, and sometimes, the world around us becomes threatening.

Nature has its ways to remind human beings of their fragility, but there’s nothing more terrifying than the hand of mankind turning against their own. As hate crimes and intolerance weave a tragic dance among us, teachers struggle to educate children as global, peaceful citizens. It’s a paradox, sure. But education is our only hope to eventually respect and embrace diversity – and thus create a better world.

At times of unrest, children are especially vulnerable. Finding reassuring words to share and creating innovative ways to thrive is how we can help them overcome adversity.

It’s amazing how much anxiety we can ease up just by sharing our thoughts and concerns. By validating our feelings, we get a sense of control, not over the actual events going on around us, but at least over our emotions and reactions to them. Whatever the situation – a natural disaster, a burst of criminality or a political turmoil – children can benefit from receiving accurate information. If they don’t, they tend to make it worse in their minds -we all do. Don’t lie, but don’t dramatize either. Children seek reassurance from the adults that have gained their trust and respect. Be the mentor your students need. ‘Got fears of your own? It’s OK to show that you are human – just keep the tone upbeat and positive.

As much as we would like to, we are not able to change many, if not most, of the things happening around us. It’s not with disrespect and rage that we rise above disagreements. Still, there are ways in which we can overcome fear, lessen pain and confront injustice. And yes, sometimes we do change things.

Lately there has been much negative talk about Mexicans. Shouting insults back to those who insult us will not make much to dismiss the idea of the lazy, dishonest, even criminal Mexican. Instead, at our school, we have decided to celebrate and cherish our heritage by creating a collective book of “Gifts and Promises”. In writing and in art, students of all ages will showcase the people, the places and the achievements that built our country – the gifts. Alongside, each one of us will reflect on our own personal and collective potential to contribute to a better México and a better world –the promises.

Will this little book change the world in its crazy ways? Not likely. But it will at least remind the children that our people is hard working and creative, and our country intriguing and beautiful, in a very unique way – and just as valuable as other countries and cultures.

Trying times can either break minds or inspire them to achieve their very best. Which one of those will be is the choice we are given.



This post is my answer to the Top Global Teacher Bloggers November’s topic: How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?


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