Talking To Kids ... How To Cope With The Earthquake in Haiti
It is heartbreaking to hear about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. At Love
Our Children USA our hearts go out to everyone who has been so tragically impacted by
this unspeakable disaster.
Natural disasters can be especially traumatic for children of all ages. Experiencing a
devastating earthquake, a dangerous or violent flood or any violent act of mother nature is frightening even for
adults -- and the devastation children and teens hear and read about can be long lasting and upsetting.
When an entire community is impacted, it undermines a child’s sense of security
and normalcy. Many unique issues and coping challenges must be presented,
including issues associated with specific types of natural disasters ... where will people relocate to
when their home and/or community have been destroyed, what happens to their family and friends, and a myriad of questions. It is up to parents to lessen the trauma for kids in a way that they can handle their emotional reactions and coping techniques.
Children look to the adults in their lives for guidance on how to manage their reactions
after the immediate threat is over.
Always reassure your children that they are safe. Teach kids that earthquakes are a
part of nature and can be unpredictable.
Parents, teachers, and other caregivers can help children and youth cope in the aftermath
of a natural disaster by remaining calm and reassuring children that they will be all right. Immediate response efforts should emphasize teaching effective coping strategies, fostering supportive relationships, and helping children understand the situation and their reactions.
Schools can help play an important role is in this process by providing a stable and familiar environment. Through the support of caring school personnel, kids can return
to normal activities and routines (to the extent possible), and be presented with an opportunity to change a frightening event into a learning experience -- even a fundraising experience.
For older kids, this can be a good opportunity to help them turn a passive viewing experience into one where they funnel the emotions from some disturbing media images into positive
action. This can be done by helping to raise money through local organizations.
Don't let kids under seven watch the news. Turn off the TV and radio news. Read the
newspaper out of range so that kids can't be frightened by the pictures. Children this young don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them. Should you choose to discuss the tragedy with your kids, try to anticipate their questions and come up with honest but age- appropriate answers.
For kids 8-10, make sure you know what images they are seeing on the Internet. Many kids
in this age group are online. Some of the pictures are just too alarming and horrific. Reassure
the more anxious kids that they are perfectly safe where they are. Some kids in this age range will experience a desire to help out those in need.
For 11-13 year olds, Put the devastation in social context. For some, this may be the first time kids are exposed to graphic images of the widespread poverty that afflicts so many in this country.
Kids of all ages can get involved in a fundraising effort.
See our Little Hearts...BIG Change Intitiative in partnership with Kenn Viselman presents! to raise funds for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Donations will go through Love Our Children USA (a 501( C ) 3 charity) and donated directly to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to benefit the children of Haiti.