Scholastic My Time is inspired by an understanding that children who have lived through disasters are frequently not emotionally free to learn. Upset, lonely, confused, frightened, and sad children are understandably preoccupied. Their confusion and helpless feelings need to be addressed before they can be expected to immerse themselves in school. Adults can help children by tuning in to what each individual child may be feeling. We adults should be good and patient listeners even when the children prefer not to talk.

Most young children don’t communicate strong feelings directly with words. Theirs is the language of action, including dramatic play, art and storytelling. These types of activities serve as a jumping off point for self expression. Every child expresses himself differently. One may respond to the comfort of storytelling, while another could prefer to "play out" worries, write about them, or even avoid them entirely. This last option is the hardest for us to accept, but we must. Our job is to tune in and listen, and accept even silence. If we can subtly communicate respect for each child’s way of dealing with the aftermath of crisis, he or she is likely to feel less alone. If a child rejects reading but shows an interest in tossing a ball back and forth in the playground or going fishing with a grandparent, or having a tea party for stuffed animals, go with the flow. Your task is to follow each child’s lead, get out the softball, dig for worms or squeeze into a little chair and sip pretend tea.

Children should feel that they are back in charge of their emotional lives and allowed to set the pace for reaching out; when they feel understood and accepted, they are likely to be less lonely and will ultimately trust the world around them once more. Scholastic My Time offers children whose lives have been spun topsy turvy a chance to feel safe enough to learn again. What a wonderful gift!

Adele M. Brodkin, Ph.D.
Senior Child Development Consultant, Scholastic Inc.

Scholastic My Time Book
A printable book (PDF)

The Scholastic My Time Book is a "make your own" book that allows children to express their feelings through writing and drawing. The book also provides the following tips for parents and guardians helping to comfort a child:

Family Support

Parents and family members are a child’s most important support system. Frequently remind young children that they are not alone. As much as possible, keep children surrounded by trusted family members and friends.

Cozy Comfort Items

It’s important to remember that young children can’t understand crisis situations like adults can. Encouraging the use of “comfort items” such as an old stuffed animal or toy can go a long way in making children feel safe.

Count on Your Neighbors

Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out for help! During difficult times, it’s important for communities to come together.

Laughter Heals

Laughter can be therapeutic for children and adults! Plan simple, fun activities that everyone can enjoy.
Activities that bring about feelings of happiness are a critical part of the healing process.

The School Community

The school community is made up of people that can and want to help you. Become involved with school activities. During difficult times, don’t hesitate to ask school leaders for help.

Self-Esteem is Key

Reinforcing children’s self-esteem is important, especially during confusing and unplanned situations. Even among very young children, trauma can lead to feelings of blame and depression. Remember to point out the positive things about your children to help them feel good about themselves.

The Future is Bright

During difficult times, perhaps the most important thing you can do for children is remind them that tomorrow is a new day and that regardless of the situation, things will get better. Encourage children to think and look forward to the future. Talk with them about their hopes and dreams, and share yours with them as well.

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