Floods, Fires, Storms: Nurturing Children Back to “Normal” When Their World Is Not
Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Academic Officer of KinderCare Education, answers your questions about how to talk to your child when they’ve experienced natural disasters—from discussing what happened to identifying and addressing their signs of stress.
- Be kind to yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so prioritize self-care. It isn’t selfish; it will help you be your best self for your loved ones who need you. Plus, it sets a great example for your children! And in those moments when you don’t feel like you have it all together, don’t put on a good face—they will see right through it anyway.! Help them by naming and validating your emotions and modeling a coping strategy.
- Focus on family resiliency by building some fun into your routine—Saturday movie night and Sunday morning pancakes are great ways to connect with each other. Have everyone look for and share 3 good things about their day during a meal or before bed to practice gratitude. And then, take a deep breath to help ground you. To help younger kids breathe deeply, hold up two fingers and ask them to smell the flower (one finger) and blow out the candle (the second finger.)
- Ask for help when you need it. If your children are returning to behaviors they have outgrown, worrying excessively, avoiding activities they love, or have poor performance at school, they may need support to help them manage their stress. Talk to your pediatrician or their school counselor for additional tips on how to support your child’s mental health.
- Create special moments—find ways to bring joy into your family’s life after experiencing a disaster. Family rituals and celebrations give children (and adults) something to look forward to. Half the fun is in the anticipation, planning, and preparation for the special moment. This could mean having a special meal once a month or celebrating a particular holiday.