It is heartbreaking to hear about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. At Love Our Children USA our hearts go out to everyone who has been so tragically impacted by this unspeakable disaster.
Natural disasters can be especially traumatic for children of all ages. Experiencing a devastating earthquake, a dangerous or violent flood or any violent act of mother nature is frightening even for adults — and the devastation children and teens hear and read about can be long lasting and upsetting.
When an entire community is impacted, it undermines a child’s sense of security and normalcy. Many unique issues and coping challenges must be presented, including issues associated with specific types of natural disasters … where will people relcoate to when their home and/or community have been destroyed, what happens to their family and friends, and a myriad opf questions. It is up to parents to lessen the trauma for kids in a way that they can handle their emotional reactions and coping techniques.
Children look to the adults in their lives for guidance on how to manage their reactions after the immediate threat is over.
Always reassure your children that they are safe. Teach kids that earthquakes are a part of nature and can be unpredictable.
Parents, teachers, and other caregivers can help children and youth cope in the aftermath of a natural disaster by remaining calm and reassuring children that they will be all right. Immediate response efforts should emphasize teaching effective coping strategies, fostering supportive relationships, and helping children understand the situation and their reactions.
Schools can help play an important role is in this process by providing a stable and familiar environment. Through the support of caring school personnel, kids can return to normal activities and routines (to the extent possible), and be presented with an opportunity to change a frightening event into a learning experience — even a fundraising experience.
For older kids, this can be a good opportunity to help them turn a passive viewing experience into one where they funnel the emotions from some disturbing media images into positive action. This can be done by helping to raise money through local organizations.
Don’t let kids under seven watch the news. Turn off the TV and radio news. Read the newspaper out of range so that kids can’t be frightened by the pictures. Children this young don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them. Should you choose to discuss the tragedy with your kids, try to anticipate their questions and come up with honest but age- appropriate answers.
Read more at Love Our Children USA’s web site and on my Examiner.com article at http://bit.ly/8h0wn9