Preparing Kids for the Storm

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!

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