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Kids and natural disasters – post Sandy trauma

Our thoughts are with all families affected by Sandy this morning after the region was hit by a devastating superstorm. We are reblogging the following article which was put together to help families affected by the various earthquakes in NZ and Japan last year.

Natural disasters can be frightening for everyone involved, especially for children who may not understand what has happened. Here are some tips for supporting children after a traumatic experience. At times like this when you are feeling stressed, scared or tired it can be hard to know what to say to your children or to know what to do. It is normal for children who have been through a traumatic event like hurricane Sandy to feel insecure and emotional. Here are some thoughts and suggestions for time spent with your kids after the event:

  • Be as calm as possible, listen and try to understand and be tolerant of any changes in their behavior. Children might have problems with sleeping and nightmares and be too scared to sleep alone. They might also be more clingy and cry, or be more frustrated and impatient than usual. Be extra patient and tolerant (more so than usual)
  • Let your children know you will all look after each other and spend time together with lots of hugs and cuddles. If your children want to use a dummy or carry a cuddly blanket – let them, it will help them feel reassured and more secure. Let them know everyone feels scared and that is ok.
  • Children want to try and make sense of what is happening and when they don’t know they use their imagination to fill the gaps this can make things more frightening for them. Try and explain what has happened and if they are interested – the science of it. You might also need to explain why we need to be careful with hygiene or special arrangements (e.g. living in a house that has no running water or electricity).
  • You are the most important part of your child’s life and how they respond to a natural disaster like hurricane Sandy will depend on how you react to it. Try to act calm even when you are not feeling that way – it will reassure your children.
  • Keeping to familiar routines will help your children feel more secure. So if the schools are open let your children go back so they can have as normal a routine as possible.

All the best

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