Hurricanes, like the recent life-threatening Harvey and Irma, can cause tremendous turmoil in people’s lives. It can take months or even a year or more for family members, especially children, to feel that life is back to normal.
The psychological bearing of a storm differs between people based on factors such as age, prior experiences with natural disasters, and the amount of stress that already exists prior to the storm. The effects of natural disasters on children can vary based on the extent of the disaster, maturity, age, and personality. They can also differ based on the way the parents handle the disaster and work toward restoring normal life for the family. It’s important for parents to talk with children and respond to their needs to facilitate coping and recovery mechanisms.
Read on for ways to restore order and calm to your children’s lives in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Talk it Out
Talk with your children about what they were feeling during the storm. It’s common for children to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, or anxiety following a disaster. They may even have difficulty focusing in school. Talking through a crisis can help reconnect with your children and can give them a positive means of expressing their fears. Furthermore, it enables parents to identify children who may need additional help dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster so they can seek assistance from professionals or school administrators.
The most important thing you can do for your children is get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Routines instill a sense of safety in children and ensure that everything is okay. Everyone, even adults, draws strength and refuge from a structured daily routine, so it’s important to start practicing bed time, dinner time, going to church, etc., even if you are staying in a hotel or with extended family. Children respond to these rituals by feeling safe and secure, regardless of the stressful changes taking place around them
Help is Available
Keep in mind that as a parent, you can’t be expected to guess how your child is feeling. It’s best just to ask them. If children assert that they are fine and seem to be functioning well, take it at face value. However, if you or your children need additional help coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, you may want to consider the following resources:
Admn October 25th, 2017