Natural disasters, including hurricanes, could be very scary for children, as they may see frightening images on the news or overhear conversations that may increase their fears. It is common for many children to worry excessively as they see everyone around them preparing for the hurricane and discussing whether they have enough food, water, or gas in their cars. Children may describe this experience as, “scary,” as they worry about what may happen to their house or if they run out of food. There are many steps that parents may take in order to ease their children’s anxiety about the hurricane. These tips could help parents prepare their children for the hurricane as smoothly as possible.
Limit Media Exposure
May children become overly anxious when they see images of the possible effects of hurricanes. It is important to discuss ways to remain safe during the bad storm by staying indoors and away from windows. It may also be helpful to have your child help in the preparations by collecting objects in the yard that may cause some damage. Giving your child some responsibility during the preparations, will increase their sense of control over the situation and help them feel more confident.
Have Comforting Objects
Your child should have toys or objects that makes them feel safe, such as a teddy bear or a blanket they usually like to snuggle in. Additionally, having a sleepover in one room may help your child feel more secure especially if the hurricane hits during the night.
Control your Emotions
Children easily sense the emotions of adults around them; therefore, seeing their parents overly stressed or worried may likely increase their fears. Staying calm and discussing the importance of staying safe and proactively preparing for the storm will help your child feel more safe and secure. Involving your children in the preparation process will keep them distracted and busy. For example, you could have your children organize food or have them arrange games that the family could play together during the storm.
Plan Activities during the Storm
Plan activities in advance for the family to engage in together. It is important to have non-electronic games on hand in case of any power outages. For example, playing board games will keep everyone entertained and will prevent boredom. Participating in activities together also gives your family a chance to spend some quality time together, simultaneously helping children feel more secure. Special plans, such as having a family sleepover in a protected room in the house, will create some excitement and help decrease fears.
Once the storm passes, it may be best to minimize your children’s exposure to the media (i.e., newspapers, internet articles, and the news) as well as pay attention to any behavioral or emotional changes in your children. Natural disasters can become traumatic experiences for many that may impact an individual’s functioning in various areas of their life. Contact the Miami Psychology Group if you are interested in meeting with one of our licensed psychologists.