Helping children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event
Emergencies and disasters are extremely stressful and it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Children, even infants, can also be affected. They depend on the adults around them for safety and security, and will need reassurance, care, and opportunities to share their feelings.
Children tend to be among the worst affected in disasters for a number of reasons:
- they are dependent on adults for safety and protection
- are in formative periods of physical and psychological development, and
- may be unable to recognise hazards on their own
It can help to be aware of the resources to support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It will help you understand some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.
Ref: Emerging Minds
Resources like the Community Trauma Toolkit can provide a starting point for you to help children navigate the different stages of a disaster. Watch the video about the Community Trauma Toolkit to learn more.
The toolkit will help you:
- prepare children and their families both practically and psychologically for disaster
- interact and support children and their families as they re-establish a sense of safety immediately after an event
- interact with children during the event in a way that may enhance their resilience and recovery
- support children and their families in the ongoing recovery process
- understand the importance of self-care during and after a traumatic event; and
- identify emotional and behavioural difficulties in children that may indicate more ongoing, specialised support is required.
4 easy things you can do to help children cope with media coverage:
- Restrict the amount of time they can watch TV or internet coverage of the disaster. And where possible, be there when they do so you can talk to them about their fears and answer any questions that they may have.
- Help them understand what has happened, why it has happened and explain how likely/unlikely this is for it to happen to them and the people important to them.
- Remind children that while the disaster is upsetting, there are also lots of good things happening in the world, though these do not always receive the same level of media coverage.
- Reassure children they are safe and make sure that you continue to follow the normal routines and rhythms of your daily life.
Remember, if children show signs of excessive worry or distress over media coverage they have seen, speak to your GP or other allied health professionals for extra support.