Kids can face serious trauma when put in such bad weather situations. Having to evacuate a home, sit through strong winds and rain, dealing with power outages – all of these things can be frightening to adults so why wouldn’t they be even more so for children? There are a few things we can do to prepare our children for these intense situations though.
Give Them Knowledge
First, give them what we adults have – knowledge. Knowledge is power, after all. Talk to your children about what may be coming. Have conversations about people that you know who have been through similar situations. Explain it to them in realistic but positive terms as something that your family will deal with and overcome together.
Read books to them. You can check your local library or book store for children’s books about snowstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, power outages or flooding. And if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to become a storyteller yourself. Tell them about a hero or heroine who got through a bad weather situation and how they did it. Giving kids information about what they might experience and people they can identify with can take a lot of the fear out of any storm that might be coming their way.
Give Them Control
Another thing that adults have in bad weather situations that kids usually don’t is some form of control. Grown-ups often make plans and prepare in a hurry while kids are left to watch. And seeing mommy and daddy run around like crazy doesn’t tend to reduce the fear factor.
When appropriate, include your kids in the emergency planning. Let them know what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going. Ask them for their ideas and answers to simple planning questions when you can. (Where are your family’s emergency meeting spots? How and who do they call for help? What should be packed in case of evacuation?) These kinds of questions keep them informed, keep the fear at bay and give them some input and feeling of control at the same time.
Another way to put control in your child’s hands is to give them a job to do. It could be as simple as keeping the family pet company so it won’t be scared. It could be unplugging all the lamps or gathering blankets. Depending on the age of your child and the type of weather you’re facing, there are any number of things kids can do to help. This is a great use of time and energy and will let your child know that there is something he can do to help himself and your family get through the situation.
Give Them You
Hopefully, your child will understand as he gains knowledge about and some control over the situation that you and your family are in it together. This is very important for all of us, but especially for kids. So don’t overlook your child’s need to know that you are there for him. Don’t ignore him when he wants to be close to you. A simple hug can go a long way.
Some adults are not particularly cuddly kind of people, but in emergency situations that may be something they just have to get over. Kids need to be close to parents, or other adults they feel safe with, so that they can feel secure.
Every adult in the home should also consider having a child tag along, when it’s appropriate to do so, as they prepare for the weather. Don’t run around just leaving the child to watch. Letting them help or even just stay close to you will go a long way to helping the child face his fear.
Be encouraging and comforting in your choice of words. Try to be patient and understanding. Try not to get too frustrated when the kids are “in the way”. They are in the way because they are, more than likely, too afraid to be away from you. Understand that, take note of it, and be there for them as soon as you are able.
No matter how much we learn about what’s coming at us or how much we do to prepare for it, there will still be some element of fear – for kids and grown-ups alike. Keeping in mind what we have that our kids don’t – knowledge, some amount of control and comfort – is important in determining how best to help them. Try to give them a little of what you have as you prepare for bad weather. But, most importantly, don’t forget to give them you.