Life-changing events appear unexpectedly or intentionally, but their impact on a person’s life is significant. In school settings, students can be assisted to cope with challenging events that happen in their families. One of the most vivid examples refers to the loss of a closed one due to his or her death. Often, a student whose parent or grandparent dies becomes apathetic and passive, losing the interest in learning activities. Another expression of grief is aggressiveness to peers, which can lead to deteriorating relationships and physical damage. The death of a close one makes students angry and disappointed that this situation happened to them. In this case, it is important to help them in understanding and accepting this death.
In terms of Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, school-age children (5-11 ages) face the conflict of industry versus inferiority. During this stage, children are commended by parents, while teachers impact their confidence development. When a child loses his or her parent, there is a threat of undermining the belief in self, including abilities and skills. The death of a mother or father adds pressure on the students’ psyche, making them more likely to try drugs and alcohol (Jessup et al., 2014). To help such students, it is important to establish trust and relationships. By listening to the problems and thoughts of the child, it would be possible to equip him or her with greater self-confidence and belief in personal abilities (Cherry, 2020). If the student fails to complete a task, a teacher can pay more attention to his or her difficulties and offer the necessary help. The development of a sense of confidence can be set as the primary goal in school settings.
Identity formation versus confusion is a conflict that happens in adolescence (12-18 years), with a focus on social relationships. If an adolescent experiences the death of a close one during these turbulent years, it affects his or her independence and social interaction (Cherry, 2020). The teacher should recognize the signs of apathy and depression to prevent the engagement in drug and alcohol consumption as the ways of grief relief. In the situation when a teenager has little or no parental support, a teacher should help in shaping their identity. The learning of positive coping skills can be targeted in the process of connecting the student with a psychologist or social support services.
Caregiving for a family member who is terminally ill is another life-changing event, which can push adolescents to drug and alcohol use. If the teacher notices such signs, it is critical to start a dialogue and gently explain that drugs would not facilitate the stressful situation. Jessup et al. (2014) state that people who care about their close ones often have no opportunity to sleep, eat, and do their activities well. In this case, the teacher can assign alternative assignments or extend the deadlines to show that this student is listened to. Such an approach promotes trust between the teacher and student, improving the social interaction abilities of the latter. The conflicts with peers can also be impacted by the teacher, who may act as a mentor and leader to examine the difficulties of classmates in communicating with each other. Thus, the teacher can act in a variety of roles that would differ, depending on a critical event, individual student, and specific environment at the school.
Cherry, K. (2020). Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Web.
Jessup, M. A., Ross, T. B., Jones, A. L., Satre, D. D., Weisner, C. M., Chi, F. W., & Mertens, J. R. (2014). Significant life events and their impact on alcohol and drug use: A qualitative study. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(5), 450-459.