Whether it's a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake far away, or a fire or shooting closer to home, parents and other caregivers must meet the challenge of reassuring children during times of crisis.
The way caregivers respond has a huge impact on how children will react.
To help, a booklet from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, called When Terrible Things Happen: A Parent’s Guide to Talking with Their Children, offers some good advice.
For example, infants and toddlers, age zero to three, can’t understand how a crisis or a loss has changed their environment.
But they can recognize and respond to changes in adult behavior.
The best way to help infants and toddlers is to keep a routine and resume normal activities as soon as possible.
Pre-school children, age three to five, may not talk about their feelings openly. Talking while playing games or drawing pictures can help children of this age group express their thoughts more easily.
School-aged children, age five to 12, have more understanding of how and why things happen and will want to ask questions. Parents can help by talking, listening and answering their questions directly and honestly.
We cannot control a crisis or a catastrophe. We can only control how we react to them, especially with our children.