Coping strategies for children after a natural disaster
26 FEB 2021
A child’s reaction may not be what you expect in times of stress and their responses can manifest in different ways. There are steps a parent can take to help a child through a traumatic event and determine if a child may need some extra help coping.
Children have the ability to work through challenges and cope with stress when they are well supported. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It is a skill that young people can develop as they grow. When a child is affected by a natural disaster, such as the recent Perth bushfires, it is important that they are made feel safe and supported, to help them to cope and increase their resilience.
Why it is important to take care of a child’s mental health after a disaster?
Emotional stress from a disaster can be harder on children because they:
Read more here.
What can I do to help?
There are things that you can do that can support your child’s mental wellbeing after a natural disaster:
How do you know your child is not coping?
It is normal for children’s behaviour or demeanour to change after a natural disaster. This can be an incredible unsettling experience that your child can react to even if they are not old enough to fully understand what is happening. Making them feel safe and supported is important.
Although children’s emotional reactions after a disaster can vary, they should not be a lingering or permanent alteration. Consider talking to your child’s healthcare professional after two to four weeks if:
Helping a child cope with a disaster can be a challenge for parents. Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help and support for your child. Try the child’s school or visit your GP for recommendations on where to go.
Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup, so it is essential that you are also getting all the support you need to cope after a natural disaster. Try and focus on the basics like getting seven to eight hours’ sleep a night, eating a balanced diet, getting some exercise, and be sure to rest when you need it. Reach out for help from friends, family and professionals should you need it. You don’t need to do this alone.
For more information on coping during a natural disaster go here.
For more information on how to talk about difficult topics with children, go here
13 Help (13 43 57) is a dedicated Lifeline service for people in bushfire affected communities.
We know that the loss and grief caused by the bushfires can impact the mental wellbeing of many communities and people, both now and well into the future. We are here for you 24/7.
Written by Karen McGlynn
Image Credit: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash