A Scary Time of Year
Posted: November 2, 2012
This time of year, late fall, is generally one associated with scary kinds of fun. Many families celebrate Halloween, and for the most part, children participate without too much hesitation. This year Halloween, at least on the East Coast of the United States, arrived with a monster all its own -- Frankenstorm! Hurricane Sandy, dubbed Frankenstorm because of its tricky bag of weather conditions, has aroused a wide gamut of emotions and reactions in both children and adults.
It is important for caregivers to be attentive and responsive to children during uncertain times like this. It is also important for adults to monitor their own feelings and be careful not to project their own fears onto children. Adults should talk about the storm realistically, conveying to children a message that they are safe and that the adults in their lives will be there to take care of them. Long-winded explanations of how hurricanes develop and move do little to help a child increase his or her understanding. Older children may be interested in this and may even like to research this on the internet. However, young children need to feel that there are caring adults around them who will keep them safe.
Talk with children about the storm as they bring it up. Answer their questions in simple terms. Communicate a message of confidence in your ability to provide care and shelter. If children are expressing fear and concern, talk about those feelings. Let them know it is o.k. to be scared at times, but again, reassure them that you are there for them. Give children an opportunity to express their feelings through art and dramatic play. Be careful not to dismiss their feelings, but help them to keep their feelings in perspective. By allowing children to express their fears and anxieties, we let them know that scary feelings are o.k. -- and can be managed.