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Discussing Natural Disasters with Children

It is important for caregivers to be attentive and responsive to children during uncertain times and natural disasters.

It is also important for adults to monitor their own feelings and be careful not to project their own fears onto children. When speaking with kids about disasters, follow these tips:

  • Talk about the disaster or storm realistically, conveying to children a message that they are safe.
  • Let them know that the adults in their lives will be there to take care of them.
  • Long-winded explanations of how natural disasters develop and move (hurricane, tornado, etc.) do little to help a child increase his/her understanding.
  • Older children may be interested in this, and they 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 disaster 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 okay 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 them in perspective. By allowing children to express their fears and anxieties, we let them know that scary feelings are okay and they can be managed.