How To Talk To Your Kids About Natural Disasters
When our family went through a tornado two years ago it made me very aware of how non-intentional I'd been with emergency preparedness things with our kids. So we started changing that together as a family. As a result, last month when storm clouds loomed on the horizon my kids weren't scared or overly concerned and we could quickly implement our plan of action.
Preparing Kids Before a Disaster
One of the best things we can do for our kids is to help prepare them in advance. If you're stuck for what to say here are a few suggestions.
- Know what natural disasters are most frequent in your area. Focus first on talking about, and prepping for, those natural disasters that are most common in your regional area.
- Talk about the science. Explain the science of what makes things happen – even if kids can't fully understand it they are comforted by knowing there's a logical reason for what's happening.
- Create a PLAN! This is the most empowering part. Let the kids help create an plan of action should something happen in near you.
- Practice your plan. You don't want to have the first run through of your plan to happen when a fire is heading your way or a tornado siren is sounded. You want your plan to be second nature by then. Preparing ahead of time should be part of every family's routine as it will greatly reduce emotional stress on your children and build up their confidence. This year when we had tornado warnings me kids and I were in the closet with our glow sticks, singing “This Little Light of Mine” and eating some snacks I had stuck away specifically for just such a possibility.
Talking to Kid After a Natural Disaster
If you've had an emergency happen in your area, then what do you do? How do you talk to your kids after something bad has happened to your family or friends and neighbors.
- Point out those who are helping. My kids were very concerned about how people would be able to rebuild their homes. We explained that helpers would be there to assist. We talked about organizations like Samaritan's Purse that send trained teams.
- Give them a way to help. Anything from collecting donations or sending their own contributions, to writing a card or hand drawn pictures.
- Put things in perspective. Remind your children that things like this don't happen very often. Or that it happened far away from where they are. Your calm, matter-of-fact, and proactive attitude will make a huge difference in how your children respond to emergencies and natural disasters. Listening to their feelings and addressing their concerns honestly will go a long way towards keeping communication open. And remember – kids mirror our attitudes! Prepare, respond, and calm in a way that is proactive and not stressful and see how well your children respond to you.
Do you live in an area that has regular threats of natural disasters like tornados, hurricanes or fires? How have you prepared your children for natural disasters?
Image via Flickr mccun934