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How to talk to your children about natural disasters

Posted at 11:10 PM, Mar 09, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Local author Julia Cook tackles tough topics in her children's books.

As we dedicate coverage throughout March to looking back at the floods of 2019, we talked to her about anxiety children may be feeling

She wrote the book, "The Ant Hill Disaster" which tackles tragedy and loss in a way children can understand. She says when dealing with any disaster, natural or man-made, you want to remember these things:

  • Remain calm and reassuring
  • Always answer a child's questions truthfully with simple answers
  • You may be asked to repeat your answers several times. Be consistent in your reply.
  • Children often feel out of control when disasters occur. Keeping with a familiar routine is very important
  • If your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, it's ok to say, "I don't know."
  • Acknowledge and normalize your child's thoughts, feelings and reactions. Help children understand why they feel this way.
  • Encourage kids to talk about disaster related events on their terms.
  • Reassure your child that many people out there are helping those who are hurting.
  • Keep your child away from watching news stations and listening to radio where the disaster is being discussed and replayed.
  • Promote positive coping and problem solving skills. Remember - you are your child's coping instructor.
  • Emphasize children's resiliency.
  • Children who are preoccupied with questions and concerns about safety should be evaluated by a trained mental health professional.
  • Strengthen friendship and peer support, and foster supportive relationships.
  • Take care of your own needs.
  • Advanced preparation and immediate response will help with healing and coping.