Tips for Parents

Children and Storms

Disasters can leave children and teens feeling frightened, confused and insecure. And kids' responses can be quite varied. It's important to not only recognize these reactions, but also help children cope with their emotions. 

You are their biggest influence.

When you can manage your own feelings, you can make disasters less traumatic for your kids.
  • Encourage dialogue. Listen to your kids. Ask them about their feelings. Validate their concerns.
  • Answer questions. Give just the amount of information you feel your child needs. Clarify misunderstandings about risk and danger.
  • Be calm, be reassuring. Discuss concrete plans for safety. Have children and teens contribute to the family's recovery plan.
  • Shut off the TV! News coverage of disasters creates confusion and anxiety. Repeated images may lead younger kids to believe the event is recurring. If your children do watch TV or use the Internet, be with them to talk and answer questions.
  • Find support. Whether you turn to friends, family, community organizations or faith-based institutions, building support networks can help you cope, which will in turn help your children cope. 
Find out more here.

Tips for Media Coverage
  • Limit Your Children’s Exposure to Media Coverage 
    • The younger the child, the less exposure he or she should have. 
    • You may choose to eliminate all exposure for very young children. 
    • Play DVDs or videotapes of their favorite shows or movies instead. 
    • Consider family activities away from television, radio, or internet.
  • Watch and Discuss with Children and Teens 
    • Watch what they watch. 
    • Discuss the news stories with them, asking about their thoughts and feelings about what they saw, read, or heard and correct any misunderstandings or confusion. 
    • Ask older children and teens about what they have seen on the internet or what they have heard through social media technologies (text, Facebook, Twitter), in order to get a better sense of their thoughts, fears, concerns, and point-of-view .
  • Seize Opportunities for Communication 
    • Use newsbreaks that interrupt family viewing or newspaper/web images as opportunities to open conversation. Be available to talk about children’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns, and reassure them of their safety and of plans to keep them safe.
  • Monitor Adult Conversations
    • Be careful of what you and other adults say about the recent stabbing or the media coverage in front of the children; children often listen when adults are unaware and may misunderstand what they hear. 
  • Let Your Children and Teens Know about Successful Community Efforts 
    • You may want to share positive media images, such as reports of individuals helping those in need. 
    • Reassure your children/teen that many people and organizations are working to help the people injured and affected. This will give them a sense that adults are actively taking steps to protect those that are currently suffering. 
  • Educate Yourself