Natural disasters: helping kids cope
Helping kids recover in the aftermath of a cyclone, flood or
Kids can be particularly vulnerable following a natural disaster, though their responses can vary greatly. These reactions can include sleep disturbances, clinging to parents, change in appetite, aggressive
Listen to your kids carefully
Kids need to be able to talk about what happened. It’s natural for them to have questions, and while you might not have all the answers, it is still important to let your children ask. There is more value in answering a question with “I don’t know”, than having a child feel like they can’t ask.
Reassure your kids that they are safe
Kids need to feel safe, which is something they might struggle with after a natural disaster. When they hear a story about a similar situation or see something on the news, they may become frightened. Listen to them carefully to understand why their upset, and then deal with it directly. For young
Take control of what your kids see
Though this is hard in today’s society, try to
If you need help choosing something for your kids to watch, visit the Australian Council for Children and the Media website, which provides recommendations and reviews on children’s movies based on age groups.
Keep doing regular things
Many kids find security in routine. Getting back to "normal" after a natural disaster can help them find stability. To cancel an outing or to pull children out of school when a crisis occurs may be helpful to you, but it can hurt your child’s sense of security – especially for younger children. Try to keep your routine as "normal" as possible.
Look for symptoms of anxiety
Often kids appear to be okay during a natural
- experiencing a change in appetite
- reliving images of traumatic events or dwelling on the event
- easily upset or are quieter than usual
- experiencing headaches or stomach aches
- having difficulty sleeping or having nightmares,
it may be because they are struggling. Speak with them about it and be patient if they have trouble finding the words. Recovery takes time, but if these symptoms continue for a prolonged period of time, seek professional help.
Create some happy memories
It might seem strange, but doing something fun with your children can help the whole family recover. Being able to look back at a difficult time and remember a positive experience can help the healing process. Try taking your kids to a theme park, a movie, a restaurant or have a picnic.
Pray with your kids
Prayer will provide an answer both for the victims of natural disasters and for your kids. Children feel empowered, knowing that they can pray for those affected by the disaster and for themselves.
Make a difference
It’s not uncommon for kids to want to help when hearing about a bushfire, cyclone or flood affecting other people. Whether it’s donating goods to people who have lost their homes and belongings or getting a parent to make a monetary donation on their behalf, it's a positive act that helps with their own recovery.
For more information and additional resources on disaster recovery, visit our Still Standing publication page.