Its hurricane season and with that comes the possibility of large hurricanes that can affect your daily life. Irma being an example. Unfortunately, these natural disasters can disrupt routines and create fear. Children absorb a lot of the parent’s anxiety and often they do not have the capacity to understand that hurricanes although dangerous may not be life threating if the taken the right precautions.
Its important for parents to talk to their children and provide them reassurance and have conversations about what to do in case of emergencies. Small children may believe that a hurricane can harm their parents and they will be left alone. Children that are a bit older may be wondering about how their house will withstand the winds and teenagers may be worried about their friends. The best thing is for the parent to speak to them about all these concerns and give them factual information. Having an emergency plan in place will ease their fears and help them remain calm.
Below is a list of things you can do, to mitigate their anxiety and help them understand better.
- During the preparations whether you are staying in your house, boarding it up, or leaving town, make sure that you remain calm. This is not only for your child’s sake but also your own. Research shows that you are more clear-headed and a better decision maker when you are calm. In order to do that, try taking deep breaths and making a list of what you have to get done. Have your children be part of the process to make it fun. The more organized you are the more you will get done.
- Allowing children to pick some of their favorite foods, maybe something they usually aren’t allowed to eat can add some positivity to their experience.
- Do not keep the television on and keep watching the news to a minimum in front of children. If they are watching the news, make sure that you watch it with them. Children, especially the younger ones, may not understand what is going on. They may internalize these feelings and can develop some type of post traumatic stress disorder. Remember children are resilient but they are also like small sponges and absorb a lot from the outside.
- Ask each child to draw their feelings about what is going on, and about what they think of the hurricane. Allow them to ask as many questions as they want. This will enable you to understand their thoughts and feelings about an event that may have a major impact on them.
- While you are inside a shelter or a home waiting for the hurricane to pass, think of making it fun. Play board games, watch a movie (if there is electricity), build a fort in the bathroom, if that is where you will be staying, cook something together, and just use this time to bond. There are a few moments like this, where you are actually mandated to stay with your family and not go to work. Take advantage of this and enjoy the time with your kids, they will not only appreciate it but will remember it as a more positive experience.