Many of us have been affected by tragedies or natural disasters. More recently, these types of events have happened around us nationally and internationally. It may seem impossible to avoid the barrage of photos and news stories.The following resources and tips will help you help your children deal with crises.
A Perspective For Adults
- Situations like this call for initiative and leadership. The goal of terrorism is to frighten and paralyze. Families and children feel stress, fear and anxiety. Parents and other adults have a vital role to play in helping each other and children deal with these emotions.
- Feeling connected is an important psychological need during disasters. At this stressful time remember to keep connecting to your family, workplace and community colleagues. Find new resources to connect to, and this may be your local CCR&R or other places that can help you, like your place of worship.
- Remember that we will all go through stages of coping, and recovery needs a long-term focus.
- Reach out to those whose ethnicity or religion may make them a target of hatred by others, making sure that you watch your own biases when talking about the events.
General Tips In Helping Children Cope With Disasters
- Assume that the children older than 5 years of age know something about what happened. Talk with them and be available, and try to be as calm as possible so as not to frighten them but to add to their security.
- Tell them that no matter what, you will do whatever you can to keep them safe, and this may need to be done continuously for a while to assure them.
- Return to routines as soon as possible, which includes making sure they get proper nourishment and water/fluids. This helps provide the security of something they know.
- Recognize that how children react to this information differs depending on their ages. Some of the websites we have included below speak to age-specific responses for children during crises.
- Engage children in play activities that allow them to work out fears or reestablish boundaries such as through role playing, puppets, games that allow for some physical contact such as circle games, art, etc.
- Avoid staying tuned to the television. During times like this, we can overexpose ourselves. Be sure if your children are watching the news, that you are watching it with them.
- Find ways to engage the children in helping out, such as sending letters, raising funds, etc. This can help restore a sense of control/power and security.
- Take part in healing ceremonies if possible, such as planting trees or attending public services in honor of those affected directly.
Local community agencies, in their supporting role for all stakeholders in the care and education system, have always been on the front lines of disaster response - hurricanes in Florida, earthquakes in California, floods of the Mississippi watershed, the Oklahoma City bombing - in each situation families, providers, and communities have all found an important resource in their local CCR&R.
Hopefully this information will assist you during the extended period which it will take to heal. If you need more extensive assistance, please contact us toll-free at 1-800-424-2246, or contact your local CCR&R.