Even though Harvey didn’t affect the D/FW area directly, chances are you know someone working or residing in the Houston area. As much as we might try to shield our little people from such frightening news as a monster storm or two threatening our coasts, they are sensitive little beings.
They pick up on our stress and worry.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes shielding children from the news can be more stressful to them than letting them in on the secret.
Talk to them
This is not to suggest snuggling up for a marathon session of WeatherChannel coverage. Without care, 24/7 weather can traumatize anyone. But you can take the opportunity to let your child know why Harvey and Irma are different from the average storm they hear outside.
Talk to them about the storm, what a hurricane is, and maybe explore different ideas they might have about the storm. This helps them put things in perspective and gives them the opportunity to ask you their questions about what they’ve heard.
When they think it’s a forbidden subject, they feel afraid to bring it up and the rumors they hear in the classroom can blow into epic proportions.
Instead of allowing their imaginations to run wild, giving your child real knowledge about what’s going on helps them better process the emergency and feel more confident in their ability to comprehend.
As much as we don’t like to think about it, these kinds of emergencies can happen to any of us at any time. Of course, we want to keep our children safe at all times and don’t plan to ever be separated from them when emergency strikes.
The tricky part of emergencies, though, is that we don’t get to control much of the situation.
To keep our children as safe as we can, we should also take opportunities such as this to teach them age-appropriate emergency planning.
For very young children, make sure you keep photo identification with their belongings that includes images of family members as well as the child herself.
In the most extreme of emergencies, this helps adults unfamiliar with the children ensure they are reunited with their families as soon as possible. Include contact information for yourself as well as for close relatives living outside our region.
As your child becomes a preschooler, it becomes possible to talk with him about home safety and what kinds of emergencies might require him to leave the house on his own, maybe even through the window if the door is hot.
Have a meeting place established where each member of the family knows to go to check in and be sure your little one knows what to do if he gets there first. Make a game of practicing how to escape the house and get to the checkpoint first.
Remember, the idea is to provide your child with confidence that they can handle an emergency while keeping them safe by giving them the tools they need to handle the situation.