Natural Disasters - Hurricanes and Floods

Posted by Rene Shelton on 9/13/2017

Natural Disasters are very difficult to comprehend and process. They seem to chip away at our feelings of safety and security.  It is no different with children and adolescents.   



From the American School Counselor Assocation, here are some things to remember:


1.  As much as possible, keep routines normal.  There is a feeling of security in the predictability of knowing what is expected and what will happen next.  This includes attending school.


2.  Limit your child's exposure to media.  Seeing traumatic things repeatedly is not helpful.  Also, limit your child's exposure to social media.  Often postings are more harmful than helpful.


3.  Be honest with your child about the situation and share as much as they are developmentally able to handle.  


4.  Listen to your child's concerns and fears. Explain that some concerns and fears are common to everyone living through the disaster.  When you can address the concerns, do so.  Never tell your child that everything will be okay.  It is not a promise you can absolutely keep.  What you can tell your child is that you will always work to keep them safe.  Then, focus on the next actions you will take to help the both of you get through the situation together.


5.  Deal with your own responses to the stress of the situation.  If you are able, find a trusted adult to talk to - but do so outside of your child's hearing.  The fears of adults are often caught by the children.  Talking to a trusted adult or an adult who can help sets a good example for your child.


6.  Reassure your child of your love and care for them.  Simply knowing someone cares about your well-being helps!



Other sources of helpful information include:

Helping Children Cope: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

FEMA's Helping Children Cope with Disaster

National Child Traumatic Stress Network's Helping Young Children Heal