How to Help Children Who Have Been Exposed to Violence: Using the Natural World

Posted by Care Courses

Nov 6, 2015 4:51:32 PM

Child care providers often wonder how to help children who have had exposure to violence. Whether it was witnessed at home, in the media, or anywhere else, violence can have a huge impact on a child’s development and can have lasting effects on their lives.

Young children are being exposed to violence on television, in movies, and in video games in a way that no other generation before has ever experienced. Through “real-time” coverage of wars and natural disasters, children see disturbing images in their living rooms practically as they are occurring. This may result in children feeling that the world is a continually dangerous place.

At Care Courses, we offer a course called Witnesses to Violence: Helping Children Cope in a Violent World, which discusses the effects of exposure to violence on a child and offers many different methods for helping children exposed to violence.

Today I will focus on how the natural world can help children heal and cope with whatever exposure to violence they may have had and how it can help children worth through fears of nature itself.

Rachel Carson once wrote, “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrain of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

To promote such healing and understanding we suggest:

  • Helping children develop a sense of seasons
    • Have children “adopt” and closely watch over a tree to learn about the natural cycles of life
  • Helping children develop a sense of themselves as nurturers
    • Help children focus negative energy on positive activities like caring for flowers or a garden, or catching and releasing safe insects
  • Helping children develop a sense of connection to something timeless and larger than themselves
    • Helpful activities include looking at pictures of the places “our” birds go in the winter and creating and working with compost to help them understand how interconnected life on our planet really is

Young children need caring adults to support and sustain their entrance into the natural world – adults who will walk with them, encourage them, and explore with them. Children need adults who understand that interacting with nature reduces stress, increases attention span, and fosters brain development. This will allow children affected by hurt, anxiety, or sadness to find healing and hope in the “repeated refrain of nature.”

Overall, in our Care Course, Witnesses to Violence: Helping Children Cope in a Violent World, we go over a variety of ways to support children exposed to many types of violence. We’ve touched on just a few of them in this blog. Want to learn more? Find this course on our website.

Please let us know how we can be of additional assistance! Call us: 1-800-685-7610, Monday through Friday, 9-5 ET, or email us days, evenings and weekends: We’re here to help!

Topics: Care Courses Questions

About Care Courses

Care Courses has been providing distance learning courses for early childhood professionals since 1990. Our courses are delivered to you either via US Mail or on your computer, and can be used for the CDA and many state training requirements. We offer over 60 excellent, convenient courses in a wide variety of interesting, helpful topics, and our courses have no time limits. Do them wherever and whenever you wish. Visit our website to access our course listings.

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