How to help your children infra the disaster
How to help your children infra the disaster! The most important thing is to talk with your child. Talking to your children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there listening to them.
- Find times when they are most likely to talk: such as when riding in the car, before dinner, while having chai or dinner or at bedtime. Start the conversation but don’t force them to talk. Let them know you are interested in them and how they are coping with the information they are getting.
- Listen to their thoughts and point of view. Don’t interrupt — allow them to express their ideas and understanding before you respond. Remember that children tend to personalize situations. They may worry about their friends or families whose children died in the event. They may worry about other children and other schools. They might be emotional, angry and feeling hopeless.
- Express your own opinions and ideas without putting down or discarding theirs. Acknowledge that it is okay to disagree.
- Remind them you are there for them to provide safety, comfort and support. Hold them and hug them.
- Take time out from your busy work schedule and be there for your children. If you are out of town, talk to them on the phone
- Try to explain the disaster in simple terms that your child can understand. Listen and answer questions honestly, as best as you can. Explain to your child what happened, what is happening and what is going to happen in words that he or she can understand. Do not give more information than they need or are prepared to hear. Don’t try to stop them from crying. Instead, hold them and comfort them.
- Parents should admit their concerns to their children, and also stress their abilities to cope with the disaster. Falsely minimizing the danger will not end a child’s concerns. Nor exaggerating the trauma helps.
Keep home a safe place. Home is usually the safest place for children of all ages. During time of crisis, it is important to remember that your children may come home seeking safety and security. Help make it a place where your children feels safe and comfortable.
Try to maintain regular routines. Children’s usual routine like going to school might be interrupted in case of school disaster. Try to maintain your children other usual routines as closely as possible. Convey your usual expectation, for example bedtime, teeth brushing, bath, mealtimes, household chores, homework etc. Have your meals at the same time of day as you always do. During meal time, turn your phones & TV off and instead talk to each other.
Engage your children in other ways. Include your children, when possible, in your activities, like cooking, fixing things, cleaning, helping in the garden, taking care of pets etc.
Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. After a traumatic event, it is typical for children (and adults) to experience a wide range of emotions, including fearfulness, getting upset easily, clingy behavior, shock, anger, grief, and anxiety. They may have trouble sleeping, difficulty with concentrating on school work or changes in appetite, may have headaches and stomachaches. This is normal for everyone initially and should begin to disappear in a few months. Encourage your children to put their feelings into words by talking about them or writing it down (journaling). Some children may find it helpful to express their feelings through art.
Take “news breaks.” It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears. It can be TV, internet or newspaper.
Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. Be a model for your children on how to manage traumatic events. They will copy you. If you are losing control, they will lose control. If you shout, scream and curse, they will do the same. Keep your regular schedules for activities such as family meals and exercise to help restore a sense of security and normalcy.
These tips and strategies can help you guide your children through the current crisis. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, you may want to consider talking to someone who could help. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.
Thanks To (Muhammad Asad Khan, MD) Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist