No one knows when the next earthquake, flood or tsunami will strike. But we do know children are severely affected by natural disasters. They also suffer greatly during conflict, drought and disease outbreaks. That’s why we have to prepare ourselves to help children cope with disaster situation.
First off, in order to help children cope with a disaster situation, it’s necessary for the adults involved to keep cool and calm at all times. While this may be difficult to accomplish, it is necessary because children follow the lead of the adults that are caring for them. If they see the adults in their community screaming, yelling, crying and otherwise losing their composure, the children will follow suit and do the same.
Keep talking with your children. Your words can provide reassurance. When danger has passed, concentrate on your child’s emotional needs by asking the child what’s uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family’s recovery activities will help them feel that their life will soon return to “normal.” Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.
Be alert to any significant changes in a child’s sleeping patterns, eating habits and concentration levels. Take note of any dramatic emotional swings or frequent physical complaints. These emotional symptoms will likely lessen within a short time, however, if they continue you should seek professional help and counseling for your child.
Here’s a some other tips:
- Watch the news frequently with your kids. That gives a chance to see your kids’ reaction and make sure they understand well.
- Make a family emergency plan. Explain it to your kids, and show them what to do.
- Teach your children about science to predict and deal with disasters. Tell them the popular warning signs of disasters.
- During an emergency case, minutes can seem like hours. It’s best to wait inside shelter before the threat of disaster has passed. Wait a little longer than to put children in harm’s way.