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Getting children prepared for a natural disaster

8/2/2021 (Permalink)

Talk about emergency preparation with your family so that everyone knows what to do. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children. 

Involve your entire family in preparation activities, such as assembling a emergency readiness kit. Children can feel reassured knowing there’s a plan in place. 

How to Guide Your Children During a Disaster 

Your Child’s Response May Be Shaped By Yours 

Feelings of fear are healthy and natural, but in a disaster, your children will be looking to you for clues on how to act: 

  • If you show alarm, your child may become more scared, seeing your fear as proof that the danger is real. 
  • If you seem overcome with loss, your child may feel their losses more strongly. 
  • If you are able to demonstrate that you feel calm and in control, your child may feel more confident and better able to cope. 

A Child Who Feels Afraid Is Afraid 

Your child may experience the emergency as being bigger than it actually is. Children's fears can be increased by their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. Your words and actions can provide reassurance; be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. 

How to Help Your Child After a Disaster 

What to Expect 

Children depend on familiar routines: wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When an emergency interrupts this routine, they may become anxious, confused, or frightened. These feelings may be expressed in a variety of ways: from clinginess to withdrawal; increased shyness to aggressiveness. Your child may return to previously outgrown behaviors such as thumb-sucking or carrying a cuddly toy. 

What to Do 

When the danger has passed, concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking what's on his or her mind. Having children participate in your family's recovery activities will help them feel that life will soon return to "normal." 

During their recovery, prevent young children from viewing television news reports of the event. The images can be very upsetting, particularly if the child is too young to realize they are watching repeated footage and not a new emergency. 

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