Helping Kids Cope with Disaster

Helping Children Cope with Disaster

Fifteen miles away from my home rages a wildfire that has destroyed more than 21,000 acres of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, as well as a number of homes.  Naturally, my mind wanders to the youngest who are affected by these fires.  Because I will be involved in some of the relief efforts shortly, I don't have the time I would like to be able to give specific support information for parents.  However, I am grateful that there are some fabulous resources already available and at your disposal.

Disaster Reactions

Whether it is a fire, earthquake, flood, torando or another natural disaster, the reactions that children will experience are similar.  Helping them maintain some semblance of normalcy in an abnormal situation will be helpful.  There is MUCH more that parents and caregivers can do to support kids through a disaster.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

For an excellent, in-depth, printable workbook, I highly recommend you check out FEMA's resource here.  This workbook proivdes you with age-specific information about a child's reaction to a disaster and meaningful ways in which you can respond.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry offers invaluable tips to parents on helping children after a disaster.

Most Importantly: Tell the Truth

The truth is always the best approach.

"I we can mention it, we can manage it."

"If we can talk about it, we can tame it."

When children overhear conversations and are given only partial information, they are left to their own devices to fill in the blanks.  Often, they become more fearful by the things they imagine, than the reality at hand.  It is best to be direct, open and honest.  Help them see the "helpers" and all of the good work that is going on to make things better.


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