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Coping Mechanisms: Children and Disasters

We've discussed Preparedness Challenges for Children in Emergencies and Helping Children Cope With a Disaster, but as we lead into National Preparedness Month, we would like to emphasize how important these considerations are as part of your Family Communication Plan.

Thinking about this year's National Preparedness theme “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”, we'd like you to remember that disasters can leave children feeling frightened, confused, and insecure. Whether a child has personally experienced trauma or seen the event on television, it’s important for parents to be informed and ready to help ease their child’s stress.

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According to the Ready Campaign, children may respond to disaster by demonstrating fears, sadness, or behavioral problems. These reactions may vary depending on the child’s age.
Children’s reactions are often influenced by the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of adults. Parents can help meet their child’s emotional needs by:

• Encouraging him or her to share thoughts and feelings about the incident;
• Clarifying misunderstandings about risk and danger by listening to their child’s concerns and answering questions;
• Maintaining a sense of calm by validating their child’s concerns and perceptions with discussion of concrete plans for safety; and
• Monitoring or limiting exposure to the media.

For more information about helping children cope with disaster, www.ready.gov/coping-with-disaster.

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