From the Center for Parenting and Family Well-Being at CHILDREN AT RISK:
This is a stressful and scary time for all of us affected by Hurricane Harvey, including our most vulnerable population – our children. Disasters can leave children feeling scared, nervous, confused and anxious. It’s important to recognize these natural reactions and that children’s responses to tragedy and disaster can be mixed, and even delayed – trauma doesn’t go away once the flood waters have disappeared. Here are five tips to help you cope as a parent so that you can begin the healing process with your children:
- TIP #1 – Take Care of Yourself Physically– Make sure you are eating, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water. Get proper medical care. You can’t fully be there for your child if you aren’t taking care of your own physical needs. http://bit.ly/2winwj0
- TIP #2 – Support Each Other- Parents and other caregivers can work together to reduce traumatic stress. Take the time to talk about your feelings with other adults. If possible take turns looking after children, and allow each other alone time to make plans or just to relax. http://bit.ly/2winwj0
- TIP #3 – Give Yourself a Break- Try to focus on immediate needs only and not overdo clean-up activities right now. You can put off major decisions and avoid making any unnecessary life-altering decisions during this stressful post-storm period. http://bit.ly/2winwj0
- TIP #4 – Share Your Feelings – Sharing your feelings with your child can be beneficial. Model empathy and perseverance through communication by saying something like, “You seem sad when we talk about this. I feel sad too, but we are both going to be okay.” Remain calm in front of your child and avoid excessive negative expressions of emotion that may cause your child more distress.
Source: Newman, Kira M. (2015). “Nine Tips for Talking to Kids about Trauma.” Greater Good Magazine, University of California – Berkley. http://bit.ly/2xMPRMi
- TIP #5 – Give Your Child Extra Comfort and Physical Affection- Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish you, too. When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. When the adults around them seem confident, hopeful and secure, it may help children to feel the same.