Natural Disasters can take a toll on our mental health. They are scary, stressful, and traumatizing, for people of all ages, especially children.
It's important for adults living with children to prepare for a hurricane or any other natural disaster without alarming them.
Here are some helpful tips parents and/or guardians should take into consideration when helping kids deal with such event.
1. Keep Calm
The most important role an adult can play is to keep calm. Your child can easily pick up your anxiety and fear, causing more stress and negativity in the household.
2. Explain the situation
Don't let them watch the news. Be their base of information and explain to them what's happening and the possible outcome. Use words and phrases they will understand based on their age level.
3. Listen to their concerns
Your child will have lots of questions! Listen to them and keep them calm by reassuring that things will be O.K.
4. Be prepared and make a family plan
Be prepared with stocks of water and food for about three to five days. Have a family plan ready in case you need to evacuate your home. Give them a list of phone numbers to call in case they are separated or lost.
5. Let them know people will help
Let your child know that a natural disaster can cause home damage. Also, let them know that many people are willing to help after the catastrophe. This way, they won't be afraid of the police, firemen, and Good Samaritans.
6. Keep them busy
Keep them busy! Read them a story, make them color, play a board game. There are so many ways you can keep a child distracted during a natural disaster.
Helping Children with Autism
1. Use a positive voice
Explain the situation to your child with a positive tone. Don't alarm them. In case of a hurricane, explain that "a very big rain storm" is headed your way and that it can be very noisy.
2. Plan ahead
Let your child know ahead of time of all the possible outcomes of a natural disaster. However, let them know there's always a plan b. "The lights might go off, but that's when we can use our flashlights."
3. Make it fun
Preparing for a hurricane can be extremely stressful. Therefore, let your child get involved as if it were an adventure. Give them the task of filling up water bottles or tell them to pack as if they were going on a family trip.
Helping children cope post-disaster
Psychological effects may happen to a child following the disaster. They may suffer from nightmares, bedwetting, personality change, and even have trust issues with adults for up to two years, according to The Children's Trust.
The best way to help children cope is for the adults in their lives, such as parents and teachers, to show their support and help them with their emotions.
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