Attention on Helping Children Cope in Troubled Times

"Let's see about writing down a worry you have on this card and washing it away on the Worry Wash Line."

“You seem worried about something, Sweetie. Would you like to talk with me for a few minutes? Maybe I can help you.”

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

When you greet students in school on mornings after terrible news stories reach across the globe and bring sadness to so many hearts…

…you have a big opportunity to help children cope in troubled times.

Let’s face it…the world can sometimes be a sad, scary or lonely place.

Research cites distressing numbers of children who go hungry when they’re away from school, face abuse, and endure other hurtful hardships; this in the face of continuing news that grips families worldwide.

Most adults have developed strategies for managing stressful situations and feelings of loneliness, but many of us still need “a shoulder to lean on” sometimes.

Experienced educators know that children are less skilled at dealing with negative feelings.

Hurting children – all children – benefit from guidance we can offer, including the admission that we sometimes feel hurt, lonely or sad, too.

Sadness, loneliness and hurt know no age limit.

Any gesture that communicates care will catch and keep kids’ attention.

Use gentle humor to help hurting children heal.

Share my funny poem that addresses worry with your whole class or in a one-on-one conversation with a child who seems sad or upset…


Dennis B

vowed that he

would live his life 


Whenever a problem

tested his resolve,

Dennis B said,

“Problems can be solved.”

“Worry only slows us down,”

Dennis said with poise,

“Let’s figure out solutions,

instead of making noise.

Grinding our teeth

until our jaws are sore,

will only make us

worry more!”

“Simply put,” said Dennis B,

“I feel much better


 Help heal hurting children by introducing loneliness busters.

Loneliness busters help children in grades K – 5 get past bad feelings.

Help heal hurting children by Inviting them to write about their feelings privately on a computer when one is available.

Help heal hurting children by inviting them to write about their feelings privately on a computer when one is available.

Reading and writing are loneliness busters. Books make good friends for children of all ages.

Keyboards and pencils make good outlets for feelings for students in grades 2 – 5.

Invite students to write on a computer when one is available, or with pencil and paper.

To introduce this activity, read my poem about loneliness.

Surprise the class with the poem on a day when students seem a bit downhearted or more distracted than usual.

Tell the class that the title asks a question.

Talk for a minute or two about why questions attract attention. Everyone knows the answer…a question needs an answer – that’s why!

Ask the class to listen for the question and think about their answers to it as they hear my poem…

Am I The ONLY One?

Am I the only one

Who sometimes feels lonely?


You feel lonely, too?

You do?

Then, that makes two who feel blue.

It’s not always easy to say

What makes me feel this way.

What exactly spoils your day?

People who don’t seem to care?

People too busy to stop and see

How lonely you may be?

At least now I know

That I am not the only one

Who feels I miss out

On some of the fun.

Thanks for telling me

That I’m not the only one.

Maybe it will help

For us to learn

How to better share what we feel.


Finding ways to be happier,

Now, that’s a BIG deal!

After you read aloud Am I The ONLY One? offer your class a choice:

  • warm up to writing by talking together for a few minutes about the focus of the poem.
  • immediately “climb into private, quiet writing zones” to compose poems about loneliness.

Plan a later time to share students’ poems, on a voluntary basis.

When teachers creatively work to heal hurting children we create communication lines that help students gain a more positive sense of themselves and the world around them. In the process, teachers help children re-focus on learning in school so that they can be successful.

Please send comments about how you help heal hurting children.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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