When Kids Aren't Ready to Learn: Listen, Protect, Connect

Marleen Wong (bio) relates how psychological first aid can be used in everyday situations.

When my colleagues and I developed psychological first aid and the model that's called Listen, Protect, Connect, we developed it for school staffs — for teachers and educational aids and the school secretary, and the cafeteria lady — all of the people that children know and trust and see every day.

They know that when they open the classroom it could be a good day where kids are ready to learn, or it could be a day where they know these kids are not ready to learn. And it tends to be one or two kids who kind of just upset the whole climate of the classroom.

And so they've taught them "Listen, Protect, Connect" because it's about kids not ready to learn. They've had their own personal crisis. They've seen somebody hit or kicked or punched or threatened with a gun or knife. They've witnessed some kind of crime. Maybe they've had — they've witnessed domestic violence at home. But it is something that they bring with them to the classroom.

So we've started to do a little training just in the classroom about here's this young boy and he's coming into the classroom and he's just mad, and he's ready to pick a fight. So before that fight starts, is it possible to maybe talk with the school social worker, talk with the counselor, to just take that boy aside and do a little bit of psychological first aid?

Tell me about what happened! I know what you're like. I know there are days when you're really in a good mood and you come in and you want to learn and you're doing great, and there are days where I know — I can just look at you and something is not quite right, and I think this is one of those days. Tell me about it. What has happened? And so that's "listen."

And that also is connecting with that child that you notice — you know who they are. You notice how their behavior has changed. And you also want to protect them because you realize how really upset, how emotionally distressed they are. And you want to care for them. You want to take care of whatever it is that's going on.

So it's been used in everyday situations, not just with respect to crises.

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Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.


More About "PFA-LPC"


More From Marleen Wong (bio)

  • Developing a Trauma-Informed School

  • Leadership Sets the Tone in a Crisis

  • Optimal Training for Psychological First Aid

  • Overview of SSET

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