14 April 2024

Provide social and emotional support

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Concussion: Support a return to learning and activity’

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Notice where support is needed

Notice where support is needed

Many symptoms can often be misinterpreted.

Instead, these symptoms are signals that a brain is still healing and needs a supportive environment to aid recovery.

  • Behaviour changes triggered by minor events
  • Reduced impulse control
  • Frustration over not being able to do things they could do before
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Reduced problem-solving skills
  • Unaware of changes in ability
  • Less able to read social cues
  • Inflexible thinking

Source: Brain Injury NZ (opens in a new tab/window)

Demonstrate empathy

Demonstrate empathy

A student talks about the value of adults having empathy for his invisible injury.

Useful teaching strategies

Useful teaching strategies

Select teaching strategies to support the recovery of a child or young person with a concussion.

Seek feedback on what’s helpful.

Adjust as needed.

  • Maintain an organised, uncluttered, and calm learning environment.
  • Create predictable and consistent routines.
  • Prepare for and give reminders of upcoming transitions or changes in routine.
  • Allow wait time for processing what is being said and to allow children and young people to form their own responses.
  • Cue that what you are about to say is important.
  • Teach children and young people to advocate and ask for clarification.
  • Discuss and practise what is expected prior to events.
  • Build awareness of how words and behaviours affect others.
  • Teach thought-stopping, relaxation, or coping strategies, such as taking deep breaths, calming self-talk, and leaving the situation until calm.
  • Incorporate breaks from the setting to regroup, calm, and rest.

Source: Adapted from Brain injury in children and youth: A manual for educators – Colorado Department of Education (opens in a new tab/window)

Reflection questions

Reflection questions

Adapt and adjust for your own context.

  • How could you reduce situations that may trigger anxiety (for example, minimise changes in routine, cramped working spaces, noise, clutter, unstructured activity, frequent transitions)?
  • Where could you teach and incorporate relaxation and coping strategies into the curriculum?
  • What processes will you use to regularly check-in with the child or young person?
  • How will you strengthen children and young people’s self-advocacy skills?

Useful resources

Useful resources

Changes Behaviour mood personality

Changes: Behaviour, mood & personality

Read time: 3 min

This leaflet explains how damage to certain parts of the brain can change personality and behaviour and affect mood.

Publisher: Brain Injury NZ

Download PDF


BrainSTARS: Regulation of emotion

This is a list of practical strategies for teachers and parents supporting students with a brain injury.

Publisher: BrainLine

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Concussion: Support a return to learning and activity”:

Return to the guide “Supporting learners with acquired brain injury”

Guide to Index of the guide: Acquired brain injury and learning