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Support from school during a difficult time

Natalia Londoño, Anna Freud Parent Champion, shares her experience of her children being supported by their school after a traumatic time.

Following a series of traumatic events, my sons - aged 8 and 11 at the time - experienced acute emotional distress. We were lucky that both schools attended by the boys provided a great deal of well thought out support, deep empathy, understanding and practical help to them and myself.

As a parent, what helped me was that both schools had a culture of acceptance and a desire to help and work with parents for the good of the pupils. This made it easier to approach staff when the problems started. The school staff involved were approachable, non-judgmental and available. For example, the boys were able to speak to them at any point during the school day and if they were busy, there was a backup person for them to go to. They were incredibly kind. One shared with me the difficulties that she had had with her son. This made me feel that maybe I wasn’t a failure because of what had happened to us. These staff members ended up forming close relationships with the boys, which helped provide them with stability during that time. The primary school gave my son permission to play on the computers during break time as he found this time particularly distressing. He was allowed to invite up to two friends with him. This helped to sustain his friendships and keep him connected with others but provided him with a safer emotional environment. Both schools attended the meetings with social services and provided detailed reports. They were very proactive at making referrals to the Single Point of Access team and fighting for the boys to be given help and support. Without the help and support provided by my sons’ schools, I believe things would’ve worked out very differently for them.