A disaster can take an emotional toll on children.
Children may experience distress when directly witnessing a disaster, coping with the loss of a family or friend, the on-going stress of temporary living conditions or challenges to returning to pre-disaster life conditions, according to a news release from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
Having a plan and communicating it with your children can help ease some of the anxiety kids may have about the abrupt changes in their routine during a disaster.
Keep it simple and age appropriate for all of your children to understand. Including your child in the planning process will make them more comfortable with the plan itself.
Explain to your children:
• What each child is responsible for,
• What your expectations are of them,
• What you anticipate will take place during the disaster or evacuation,
• Explain what you will do to ensure they are safe during the disaster,
• Explain how you will communicate with each other during a disaster.
For babies, how you react will dictate their emotional response so try to remain calm.
For toddlers and young children, soothe and reassure them often to make the abrupt change to your family’s routine more manageable for them to handle.
Older children can still feel overwhelmed, so make sure you include them in your emergency action plan and communicate with them often.
Most of all, remain calm. Children of all ages will sense how you feel and base their reactions off of your energy.
And make sure to acknowledge their fears, monitor changes in behavior and heal together.
For more tips, visit ready.illinois.gov.