Hi, I’m Jennifer Bishop, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Boca Raton, Florida. I specialize in working with children ages 3 to 12 and their parents.
Hurricanes can be pretty scary events — for grown-ups and kids alike. From a developmental standpoint, we know that children learn how to respond to situations based on the behaviors and attitudes of those around them. So here are some tips to help them — and you — be ready this hurricane season.
Talk about hurricanes.
Kids might be confused about what a hurricane is, so use simple age-appropriate descriptions of what they might expect if one is coming your way. For a younger child, you might say, “A hurricane is a thunder storm with very strong winds and lots of rain, lightning and thunder.”
It’s also important to stress to kids that grown-ups will do their best to keep them safe.
Try to remain calm yourself.
Kids are sponges and can easily sense the emotions of those around them. When a parent seems overly upset or worried, this may unintentionally amplify a child’s own fears or worries.
Let your children be involved in prestorm preparations.
Busy bodies can help minds be less busy. Participation in age-appropriate helping roles can also increase a child’s sense of control over the situation.
- Have a family Disaster Emergency Kit. Kids can help collect canned goods and get flash lights ready.
- Have your kids help bring in outdoor items.
- Discuss your family’s disaster plan together. Will you need to evacuate — and what would that look like? Which grown-ups will do what? This will help your children have an idea of what to expect.
During the storm…
- Have your child select a few comfort items, nonelectronic games or toys in case of power outages.
- Try to keep as normal a routine as possible. Familiar routines can help children feel calm and safe.
- Encourage kids to talk about their feelings or thoughts about what’s happening. Though some kids might not prefer to talk right away — and that can be OK, too. Spend time together and let them know that you’re there when they’re ready.
After the storm…
- Monitor media exposure. There can be “too much coverage” leading up to and especially after a hurricane has hit. These images might be too much for young eyes and sensitive hearts.
- Let children help with clean-up.
- Pay attention to signs of stress, including nightmares, regressive behavior/acting younger than their age and extra clinginess. These are common symptoms for children who’ve experienced a traumatic event.
- If you see any of these signs, please make sure to call for further resources! 561-408-1098
For more information and useful tips, visit my website at www.mysouljunkie.com!