Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires…and the list goes on. It’s easy for adults to ignore or underestimate the fear and misunderstanding that kids experience after a natural disaster. We are often so concerned about our own feelings that we forget to provide answers and comfort to our children.
If you’re a parent, it’s likely you’ve pondered these questions:
- Should I wait until my kids ask?
No. Discuss the disaster openly with your child. Encourage them to ask questions, and answer those questions directly. Not talking about it makes the event even more threatening to your kids. Silence suggests that what has happened is too horrible to even speak of. Chances are they have already heard about it.
- Should my kids watch media covering the event?
Maybe. Research has shown that watching media coverage of disasters can create stress for children. Parents should limit the viewing and watch with their children in order to deal with their reactions. Reassure them that chances of a similar disaster occurring in their area are slim and correct any misinformation.
- Should I share my feelings and reactions?
Yes. Consider sharing your feelings about the crisis with your child. This allows you to exemplify how to cope and plan for the future. However, be sure you can express a positive or hopeful plan.
- How can I help my kids dispel their worry and shock?
If possible, don’t disrupt normal routines. Children find comfort in consistency. If appropriate, consider volunteering for a community relief organization together. Helping others brings peace and happiness.