Helping kids cope when emergencies happen

Be strong and supportive

Emergencies can be very stressful. Children in particular can feel the stress deeply -- and may react in a number of different ways. As a parent, the key to helping your children cope is simply by being there and making them feel safe and secure.

Did you know...

Younger children may cry, whine or wet the bed in emergency situations. Older children may experience an intense fear of injury or separation from family members. Other common reactions include a fear of the dark, physical pain and eating or sleeping problems.

How to help kids cope during or after an emergency:

  • Take their fears seriously and tell them that it's okay to be scared. Reassure them that they're safe and that you'll continue to help them when they feel afraid.
  • Ask your children about their fears, feelings and thoughts on what has happened.
  • Explain the events as best you can and acknowledge what's frightening about what happened.
  • Tell your kids what you think and feel. Doing so helps them feel less alone if they know that their feelings are similar to yours.
  • Maintain familiar routines, like mealtimes and regular bedtime hours. These are comforting and help reinforce a child's sense of security.

While parents can play a huge role in helping children deal with feelings of anxiety, sometimes it may be helpful to talk to a professional such as a psychologist, social worker, physician, nurse or psychiatrist who can help children understand and cope with their emotions.

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