Emergencies Also Affect Children
It doesn’t matter how old your child is; they will have strong feelings during and after an emergency. For some children, the emotions show right away. They’ll display signs of distress like crying, wailing, and anger. Other children may keep their emotions inside, then react when things have settled down. The following are five ways you can help children cope when emergencies occur in their lives.
1. Provide Attention and Reassurance
When an emergency or disaster occurs, adults often become focused on the crisis itself. Even afterward, caregivers may be dealing with their struggles. Children may be left to fend for themselves.
Extra effort is necessary to provide children with attention and reassurance. Knowing that they are being acknowledged and looked after provides children with a sense of love and security that can blunt the damaging effects of an adverse event.
2. Limit Exposure to the News
In times of an emergency or disaster, the news can contain disturbing themes that aren’t fit for children. The news can also cause unnecessary fear in children, because they may think everything on the news may happen to them. The news can be too vivid and detailed for young children, which can cause trauma.
Instead, limit the amount of news they are exposed to. Sit and talk with them about their questions, and allow them to speak about the news they see and hear from others. It’s vital to correct any misinformation they hear and provide them with age-appropriate feedback. Keep to the basic facts, answer their questions, and be patient.
3. Express Emotions Through Play
Some children feel more comfortable expressing their concerns through drawing, painting, and playing. Allow children to voice their emotions through artwork or play. Use this time as an opportunity to see how they are processing information and dealing with their emotions. Children often reveal a lot about themselves through their imagination, so provide them with the time and tools to do so. Take this time to interact with them and help them through the healing process.
4. Watch Any Signs of Trauma
Every child is different and will have a unique reaction to an emergency. However, there are common signs that indicate children are having a difficult time coping.
Changes in behavior, like acting out in a usually quiet child or silence from a child that’s typically talkative can be a sign of trauma. Young children might start to practice behaviors they had previously grown out of like bed wetting or sucking their thumb. Though troubling, these are all typical signs of trauma. Remember to provide comfort and security, and seek outside help if these behaviors don’t go away or worsen.
5. Be a Healthy Role Model
Children ultimately look to the adults around them as their role models. Don’t feel the need to seem perfect and unruffled at all times. It can be beneficial for children to see you coping with stress in a healthy manner. Set a positive example. Let them know that you, too, feel worried or sad — but that you are working towards making things better.
Love and Affection
There are also other methods to help prevent and decrease anxiety. CalmiGo is a medication-free way to help focus your breathing and calm your body down. Perfect for use at any time for feelings of stress and anxiety, CalmiGo is an excellent option for coping with life’s changes.
Children are inherently positive and resilient, but they still need our help. Love and affection, with a little bit of play time, can go a long way in helping children cope with emergencies.