Helping Children Cope with Disasters
Children can be traumatized from natural disasters. Here’s how you can help them.
Primary care providers and parents are responsible for protecting their children, as well as helping them cope with any natural disasters. Such disasters can cause trauma in young people, which can adversely affect both their mind and body.
As parents, there are some ways by which you can help your children in the event of a trauma caused by disasters and natural calamities.
You can start with helping children identify and acknowledge their feelings, and explain to them what happened. Let them know you love them, and whatever took place was not their fault. Be honest in assuring that you will take care of them, and that it is normal to feel upset. Allow them to cry and feel sadness. You can also encourage children to talk or write about their feelings, and even draw pictures.
However, do not expect them to be brave and tough towards trauma. You must be patient in letting them discuss the event when they are ready. Avoid getting angry or upset if they start to show strong emotions or if they begin to bed-wet, act out and thumb suck.
In case your children have trouble sleeping, you might want to give them extra attention. You can let them sleep with a light on. Another option is you can have them sleep in your room. If possible, parents should keep familiar routines such as reading bedtime stories, eating dinner, watching TV together, reading books, exercising, and playing games. Otherwise, you can possibly start creating new activities. Help children feel in control, like allowing them to make their decisions such as choosing what to eat and what to wear.
Though some trauma survivors may get better with good support alone, children experience and respond to trauma differently. More than the things parents can do in helping their children cope with trauma, counseling from a mental health professional may sometimes be necessary.
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH.
By: Dr. Joselyn Eusebio
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