Here’s my plea: Don’t freak out your kids. Protect them, regardless of their age, from all the stressing.
Why? Simply put, it can be traumatic for them.
That’s right, regardless of if your child ends up in the actual path of the storm, the anticipatory stressing can leave a trail of storm damage emotionally. You are getting ready to handle the storm physically. Make sure you get ready to handle the storm emotionally too.
Here are a few tips:
Get your kids away from the television. That’s right, just turn it off. By now, some children have already been watching hours and hours of storm forecasting. Each terrifying prediction, each scary video, and each worrisome analysis is taken as fact by children. Children are literal thinkers. Hearing and watching continual news hype is going to increase fear and create high levels of unneeded stress. Go ahead and check the news yourself as needed away from your children, but keep the kids out of it, even if they seem like they are drawn to it.
Stay calm. Your kids are going to take their cues from the adults around them. Do what you need to get ready, but try your best to stay calm while you do the needed preparations.
Do the preparations needed for your location, and then settle down and find something to take your mind off the hurricane.
Maintain routine as best as possible. Children thrive on routine. Keep what routine you can in place for your children. It will provide a needed sense of calm and help the whole family relax during a stressful time.
Answer your child’s questions honestly, but with age appropriate information. Depending on your child’s age, they may be asking for simple reassurance or more in-depth details. Limit what you say to just answering the question asked. Don’t overdo it. Check in about the feeling behind the question as well. Excessive questions may indicate your child is already highly stressed and seeking reassurance more than answers. Most of all, children need to know they will be taken care of. You can’t control the storm’s path, but you can control the path of information your child receives.
Be positive. Yes, we’re facing a major storm with potential nightmare like damage. Keeping positive will go far towards helping your child avoid getting unnecessary nightmares or stress. Children need the adults in their lives to be in charge. You are in charge of keeping a positive atmosphere alive in your household during this stressful time. Reassure your child that you have handled things as needed and will take care of them.
Encourage play as usual. Play is the work of a child. Encourage your children to play, laugh, and relax. Get out some board games that don’t require electricity or batteries and play together. Keep the atmosphere light and adventuresome.
Take care of your teens too. It’s not just small children or elementary age children that are impacted. Teens will also benefit from being pulled away from the television, given reassurance, and encouraged to take their minds off the storm. Let them help with preparations but let them also be kids who can relax because they have adults who are in charge.
Using the above tips will help your children and you come through the storm in a calmer place. It will be better for all of you.