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How to Help Your Child Cope with Disaster

How to Help Your Child Cope with Disaster

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How to Help Your Child Cope with Disaster

From house fires to basement flooding, disasters can take a heavy toll on adults and children. As parents, it is important to understand our job is to make sure our children feel safe and give them a chance to cope with emotions of confusion, insecurity, and distress. 


We compiled a list of several things you can do as a parent to help your child cope with disasters.


#1 Have one-on-one discussions

Children may feel more insecure or anxious about a disaster because of their limited understanding of the situation. It is important to listen and fully understand what your child understands about the disaster so you know what to explain to them. Help your child name the emotions and feelings he/she has (angry, sad, scared, confused) and validating them. Helping your child feel safe expressing what they feel will help them work through their emotions.


#2 Get your routine back to normal ASAP

Routine is one of the things in a child's lives that helps them feel stable and safe. By continuing with their routine (even if it’s just bedtime) it can help your family feel a sense of stability. It may be difficult, but if you can stick to the same meal times and regular activities, it will help your child cope.


#3 Pay attention to behavior

During times of disaster or stress, your child may have a greater separation anxiety, become withdrawn, lose their appetite, or become increasingly clingy. Regressive behavior is also common. Your child may choose to suck their thumb, carry around their stuffed animal again, or fall into younger habits like wetting the bed. If your child continues with regressive behavior for longer than a couple of months parents should seek professional help.


#4 Take care of your own feelings

It is important to manage your own stress during the disaster. If you are not handling the stress well, it will be much harder for you to help your children cope with the situation. Discuss your feelings with your spouse, family, or coworkers. See a professional if necessary to help you cope.


#5 Be aware your child may feel helpless

To combat the feelings of helplessness that children face in the wake of disaster you can do several things. First, you can talk and plan on what you are going to do if a future disaster strikes. Second, you can physically make an emergency preparedness kit with your child. Third, you can include them with disaster cleanup, fundraising, or service. All of these will help your child feel more in control of the situation. The important thing is to remain patient and calm with your child throughout it all.


#6 Limit Media Exposure

Organizations like Red Cross recommend limiting your child's exposure with media during and after a disaster. Images can be very upsetting, especially if your child is too little to fully understand that the pictures are repeat footage and not a new disaster.


Children can feel very overwhelmed during disasters. Giving them extra attention, love, and talking to them about their feelings will help in the coping process.


And remember when you need peace of mind in uncertain times, turn to Delta of the Wasatch Front.

Author

Publisher

Caroline Wilkins

No matter the size of the job we can help you. We are fully equipped to get you back to normal, fast!

Delta Disaster Services (801) 709-1921