Natural Disasters are an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. This year, more than four major natural disasters rocked North America, leaving thousands without homes in the wake of the devastation and likely many questions for those learning about the power of these events for the first time. As we continue sharing tips around National Preparedness Month, read below for a few ways to broach the conversation of natural disasters with young children.
- Ask them what they already know: The first step in helping your child understand the dangers of natural disasters and the impact they can have on communities is learning what they already know or perceptions they already have. When these disasters occur, children will overhear discussions on the news and likely talk about the events with their friends at school. Before getting into details on why these disasters happen and how to prepare, ask your child questions to understand their concerns, questions and misconceptions. Young children can be especially vulnerable to believing that such events were caused for reasons such as bad behavior, so helping them learn that such events can happen at random will help ease into the subject.
- Use language that’s easy to understand: When listening to the news and overhearing conversations, children can get caught up in the details on destruction and quickly become overwhelmed. Talk with them about how natural disasters can be prepared for, such as creating safe places in the basement of the home or listening to local news stations for evacuation orders in extreme circumstances, and that the safety of people is always the number one concern regardless of damage they see to homes. Log onto educational sites to teach your kids about what different colors in the sky might mean and to listen for tornado warnings as an alert to get in a safe place.
- Discuss safety protocol from if a natural disaster happened near the home: While Michigan is safe from hurricanes, other natural disasters such as tornados, floods and blizzards still pose real threats. If your child is old enough, show them where the emergency preparedness kit is in the home in the event of lost power in addition to safe spaces away from windows or sharp objects in the event of a tornado. Explaining that these disasters can be planned for, though not prevented, will offer an additional sense of security for your child.
- Reassure your child and encourage them to look for ways to help. After having these discussions, children may still feel scared that a natural disaster will happen near the home or worry about those affected by a recent disaster. Be sure to reassure them that safety measures are in place when such disasters happen and offer to help find ways to donate to local or national relief efforts to help those in need.
Natural disasters many times can’t be predicted or avoided, but there’s never a bad time to teach your children how to react and respond when such event occurs. Be sure to check out our other Energizing Youth blogs for more great tips.