As I sit writing this blog today in North Carolina, we are preparing for a major hurricane and our entire city is on alert. Every television channel is running a news-feed under regular programming and emergency announcements have been popping up throughout the day. Our school system has dismissed students 1 day in advance. My children cannot avoid knowing that something important and possibly dangerous may be approaching the community where they live. They have many questions. Some of the questions I can answer. Some of them we will need to research.
If you are experiencing any of the same concerns. These tips may help prepare your children for the storm or other natural disasters.
Talk to your children about the conditions. My children are very interested in the science of it all. What is a hurricane? How is it made? What’s the difference between a watch and a warning? I started to realize that many times we assume that the answer to some of these questions are common knowledge. However, depending on the age and developmental level of your child this information may need to be explained. For older children, it might even be worth reviewing to ensure that they understand the levity of the situation. There are many great Internet resources and books available on most weather conditions. Author Seymour Simon has a great book called Weather and another entitled Lighting.
Ask children about their feeling. Sometimes we are so busy preparing for the situation we don’t realize our children may need to talk about their fears and worries in order to process the upcoming event. If they do express fears and worries don’t down play or minimize their feeling. Try to validate their feelings. “I understand how you feel. Storms can be scary.” “It’s okay to be worried. We will do everything we can to be prepared.”
Develop an emergency plan. Go over what you will do if an emergency should occur during the storm. What we will do if the power goes out? Where we will go if the house catches on fire? If you have time, practice your plan/do a role-play. The more familiar everyone is with what do, the easier it will be to execute should an emergency occur.
Let the children help prepare. Allowing your children to be part of the preparation process can relieve some of their anxiety. They know what the plan is and have been involved in making it come together. Some of the things children from 5 and up can do are help stock up on supplies, help prepare meals, and pick out games to play and books to read in case the power goes out. Children may also be able to pack their own overnight bags if you need to prepare to evacuate your home. If you have pets, the children may help prepare sleeping and litter box arrangements during the storm.
If you would like more information about preparing children for natural disasters or need assistance after having experienced a disaster or other traumatic event, please call and set up an appointment for parent coaching. You can reach me at (919) 925-2274 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.