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Coping with Stress

Young girl showing off art work

After a Natural Disaster: Your Elementary Aged Child

Rose Allen, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

Revised July 2015 by Ellie M. McCann, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.

Life can be disrupted for everyone involved in a natural disaster, including children who are in kindergarten through grades 5 or 6.

How Children React

Some school-age children may be directly affected by the loss of their home or possessions. For the children who have not directly experienced the effects of the disaster, the impact is the loss of their sense of predictability and security. Watching the weather updates and having your community inundated with heavy equipment, volunteers, and major mess is enough to jolt any of us out of our sense of well-being.

Typical behavioral changes for a child age 6–11 years old include the following:

What You Can Do

If you have an elementary age child, or work with children this age, here are some things to keep in mind:

As difficult as it may be right now for you, your family, and your community, think about the stories you will have later. Help your elementary age child be a part of that story. In the near future, your child will look back and take pride in their ability to get through tough times.


Lazarus, P. J., Jimerson, S. R., & Brock, S. E. (2003). Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Information for Parents and Teachers. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Mental Health America. (n.d.). Helping Children Cope with Tragedy Related Anxiety.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2001). Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters. Bethesda, MD: Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications.

Related resources

Helping Children Cope — Family communication and coping skills have a great impact on how your family deals with tough times. Part of the Getting Through Tough Times series.

Helping Children Manage StressIowa State University Extension — Tips to help children learn ways to handle new or frustrating situations and manage stress. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

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