What to do to help children cope with stress when a natural disaster strikes

Health

If a storm is approaching you know what to do. Windows boarded and emergency plans in place, with gallons of water and canned goods stocked.

As we’re rushing to prepare for an impending natural disaster it is possible to overlook a less visible need — the mental health of children.

Anxiety, uncertainty and fear is running high for the adults and it’s magnified for our children. 
On a typical day  10-20% of children and teens have a diagnosis of an anxiety or anxiety related disorders. It is actually the most prevalent mental health condition in kids and therefore is an essential part of emergency preparedness. 

Here are some simple tips to help your child cope during times of crisis.

1.       Share age appropriate information and encourage questions. Silence is a stressor. 
2.       Teach your child deep breathing by teaching them how to blow bubbles. Fun and practical. 
3.       Offer encouraging validation with a phrase like “I believe you can handle this.”
4.       Limit media exposure. They don’t need to see their hometown being destroyed on tv. 
5.       And don’t be afraid to ask for help by involving friends and family.

Children take their cues from adults, so make sure they know you are on their side, even in a crisis.   

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