Family Matters Blog: Talking Natural Disasters With Kids
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2011 – I got a call from the school counselor yesterday about my son. An earthquake that had rattled windows and walls on the East Coast the day before also had rattled my 7-year-old.
Yesterday, he was so nervous about an aftershock that his teacher sent him down the hall to the counselor to talk about his fears. My son flooded the counselor with questions, she told me. “What if we get another earthquake? Why do we have to go under our desks? Why would we go outside?”
All valid questions, we agreed.
But the tricky part is finding the right answers. And I figured I’d better do that soon, since another natural disaster, Hurricane Irene, is due to strike the East Coast this weekend. I’ve already caught my son nervously listening to weather reports to see if the storm will hit Maryland.
After some research, I learned the most important thing I can do is create an open environment so my son feels comfortable asking questions. Here are some other tips for talking to kids about natural disasters, courtesy of the American Psychiatric Association’s Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives website:
-- Give children honest answers and information. Children usually know, or eventually will find out, if you're making things up. It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
-- Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child's age, language and developmental level...
More commonsense here.