Preschool Age Children
Grade School Age Children
Quick Tips for Parents
Each child responds differently to disasters depending on his or her understanding and maturity. However disasters can create a great deal of anxiety in children of all ages because they may interpret the disaster as a personal danger to themselves and those they care about. Therefore it is important that you are open about the consequences for your family. Encourage children to talk about their reactions and feelings regardless of their age or relationship to the damage caused by the disaster.
Preschool Age Children:
Behavior such as bed-wetting thumb-sucking baby talk or a fear of sleeping alone may intensify in some younger children or reappear in children who had previously outgrown them. They may complain of very real stomach cramps or headaches and be reluctant to go to school. It is important to remember that these children are not 'being bad' – they are afraid. Here are some suggestions to help them cope with their fears:
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Children this age may ask many questions about the disaster and it is important that you try to answer them in clear and simple language. If a child is concerned about a parent who is distressed don’t tell a child not to worry—doing so will just make him or her worry more. Here are several important things to remember with school-age children:
Encourage older youth to work out their concerns about the disaster. Adolescents may try to down-play their worries. It is generally a good idea to talk about these issues keeping the lines of communication open and remaining honest about the financial physical and emotional impact of the disaster on your family. When adolescents are frightened they may express their fear through acting out or regressing to younger habits.