I am making a special post, in response to the influx of phone calls over the past few days. For those of you affected by the storms, how do you respond to the natural disaster, how do you help your children cope with recent events?  Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes can leave children (and adults) fearful and anxious. From this past weekend, whether your children experienced the tornado first hand, saw the aftermath in the media or are listening to others around them talk about it can be difficult for them to process everything that is happening. Often times, in natural disasters an entire neighborhood or community is impacted, lowering a child’s sense of security and normal day to day events.

How do you know if your child is affected? Some signs to look out for:

  • Difficulty going to school / daycare
  • Clingy or terrified of being alone
  • Repeated talking about the event, worrying about the event happening again
  • Trouble falling asleep / nightmares
  • Physical problems such as headaches or stomaches

Some things you can do to help your children are:

  • Be aware of your own feelings/reactions.  Children pick up on our anxieties and our own insecurities. Our children look to their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives for guidance and direction of  how to manage their reactions after the event is over.
  • Acknowledge their feelings, encouraging them to talk about the event, remind them that you are there to keep them safe.
  • Limit media coverage of the event. Whether it’s seeing pictures in the newspaper or watching the news report, these images can be graphic which in turn can be frightening or anxiety provoking.
  • Stick to as much of a routine as possible. The consistency will help the child and family get back to normal.
  • Prepare for natural disasters
    • Have a disaster plan (What to do when there’s a tornado, earthquake, etc)
      • What to do / Where to go for help
    • Practice disaster plan
    • Create a disaster kit

Here is a resource that might be helpful when processing with young children. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help!  Step By Step Counseling, LLC is offering their condolences to those who were effected by last week’s tornadoes. You are in our thoughts.

Best Wishes,
– Jennie

Jennie Wilson is a child and adolescent therapist. She holds the credentials of a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor