Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Our great nation is haunted by more than just little ghosts and goblins this Halloween because of Superstorm Sandy. While we can always look around and find others who are less fortunate, it does not negate the fact that the storm may add extra stress to our lives. Families that have a plan will successfully weather the storm, return home after it, and live with the inconveniences it produced.
Here are some simple reminders to help children through violent storms and their aftermath:
- Have a plan. You will feel more confident and in control, and your child will feel your confidence.
- Review the plan with your child on her level, keeping it age-appropriate. Be aware of your child’s level of understanding based on her developmental stage and talk with her about the plan before there is an imminent threat. Role playing and explaining what to do in case of an emergency eases a child’s fears.
- Allow your child to help return to normal by giving her age-appropriate chores such as cleaning up.
- Stay in touch with the news but do not allow your child to see it all. Make sure that you do not have the TV or radio playing continually around him. Children do not need all the details, so find a way to stay informed without that news continually filling his environment.
- Children are comforted by routines, so make sure your plan keeps your family’s routines as consistent as possible. If your former routines won’t work, develop new ones for your children as quickly as possible.
- Books are great resources to explain storms to your children. Do not fear that knowledge will frighten them even more. More often than not, knowledge helps to ease their fears.
- If you must use a shelter, do not leave your children unattended at any time. Emergencies do not change the rules. A stranger is still a stranger, and you should not allow someone you do not know to care for your child unless it is a life/death situation. Keep your child with you at all times.
- Create a great memory for your child if you are home together during a storm. Do you remember times when you cuddled during a storm? Play games, sing songs, read books – anything that keeps you close to your child during this time of uncertainty will comfort him.
There is no perfect way to handle every child. Some seem to be unaffected by a storm while others fall apart at the mention of one. However, all children need to feel secure in the care of the adults they trust. Keep your children close, keep them safe, and make sure you have a plan that prepares everyone for whatever could happen.