As we begin a new school year, our children are likely hearing about natural disasters as we recover from Hurricane Harvey and Irma is spinning in the Atlantic. It is a good time to pause for a reminder that adult attitudes can be instrumental in keeping children calm. We need to project a sense of comfort as much as possible in the wake of uncertain times.
There are several steps we can take. First, try to keep children’s schedules as uniform as possible. If this is not possible, be sure to tell children what to expect for the day or week. When children have a sense of expectation, they feel calmer.
Another good step to take is to invite children to share how they are feeling. This can be done with puppets or stuffed animals. You can begin by having a stuffed animal say, “There is water in my street. I was scared. Has this ever happened to you?” Invite children to “talk” to the animal.
Children can draw pictures of what might be happening in their neighborhoods. Use these illustrations as a place to begin a conversation. Allow children to express their feelings.
Finally, be sure to stay in close communication with families and mental health professionals. When all of the adults in a child’s life work together, everyone benefits, especially as the entire family likely needs support.
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