After a Natural Disaster: Your Elementary Aged Child
Life can be disrupted for everyone involved in a natural disaster, including children who are in kindergarten through grades 5 or 6.
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 wellbeing.
If you have an elementary age child, or work with children this age, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Find ways they can help – kids this age love to "do" and being a part of the solution is a great way to help children gain a sense of control over their life.
- Keep them in the loop – children this age need to know in general what the plans for the family, school and community are. They especially need to know about details that affect them. Do they need to help out so parents can deal with recovery?
- Make sure they know you are thinking about their well being – of course you are, but tell them what plans you have made to insure their comfort and safety.
- Watch your own responses. Your kids will respond calmly if you are in control of your fears and panic. As hard at this is in a time of disaster, it will help your entire family move through this difficult time to recovery and the return of "normal" life.
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.