Tips for Talking to Children About Severe Weather, Flooding, and Storm Damage
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak offers six tips for helping parents and guardians talk to young children about storms and flood damage.
SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak is dedicated to providing homeowners and businesses with the flood damage restoration services needed to quickly and efficiently return life to normal. The team understands how disruptive and stressful damage from a flood or severe weather can be. Water and flood damage also impacts children in the home. Some of a child’s most precious possessions may be lost, damaged, or destroyed. The restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak will clean and restore a child’s beloved toy with the same skill and attention to detail paid to any other valued item.
How to Help Children Understand and Process Storm Damage
News reports on the radio, television and social media bring the human impact of natural disasters up close and personal, even if the events occurred in places hundreds or thousands of miles away. The vivid images can cause children to become anxious and fearful about their own safety.
Jessika Boles, Ph.D., CCLS, a child life specialist for the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, offers a professional perspective, writing, “Much like adults, children find comfort in routines and regularity. When these are threatened by unpredictable and uncontrollable natural disasters, like hurricanes, a child’s first concern is often about his or her own safety – even when the actual disaster may be a world away. But, when given opportunities to talk about the event and process their feelings in familiar ways, even young children can manage and cope with the stress of a natural disaster.”
The practical tips listed below are intended to help parents and guardians have understandable, meaningful, and encouraging discussions with children about severe weather and storm damage.
Tip #1: Have a conversation on the child’s level using clear and descriptive language.
Violent thunderstorms, massive flooding, devastating tornadoes, and destructive hurricanes may be unfamiliar concepts to little children. They may also not realize the different scope of each event. For example, a thunderstorm may last for fifteen minutes, while a hurricane or tropical storm may linger for days. Parents can help children by defining each event and clarifying the differences in clear, age-appropriate language.
Tip #2: Talk about safety.
Although severe weather and storm damage are inevitable and unpreventable, children are less fearful when they know precautions are in place. Turn the formulation of a family safety and survival plan into a group activity that builds confidence and helps a child feel secure. The simple act of identifying what to do in a disaster can overcome fear. Creating a disaster survival kit with emergency food and water supply, a radio, flashlights, batteries, and a favorite stuffed animal or soft blanket can help a child cope with the unknown and the unpredictable.
Tip #3. Avoid overwhelming the child with information.
Err on the side of moderation. An information overload of explicit images, traumatic videos, disturbing audio, and emotional eye-witness accounts will most likely overwhelm a child’s delicate sensibilities. Information is empowering, but continuous exposure to traumatic news reports about the disaster and the human suffering it has caused can be detrimental to children. Overexposure can result in a child experiencing unhealthy levels of anxiety, stress, frustration, and fear, depending on the child’s psychological state. Interrupt the constant barrage of bad news with a variety of good and encouraging news and entertainment. By turning off the television, computer, or phone, a parent or guardian can give children a healthy sense of control over the flow of information about the natural disaster.
Tip #4: Encourage children to express their emotions.
Let children know it is acceptable to experience fear, anger, or confusion. Help them cope with these emotions through mediums such as structured play and art to stimulate conversation.
Tip #5: Provide opportunities to get involved.
Positive involvement in disaster relief efforts through donations of time, clothing, food, and money can give children a sense that they are helping overcome the challenges associated with a natural disaster. By being part of a large community effort, children can take confidence that the community will be there for them should a disaster disrupt their lives.
Tip #6: Pre-qualify a restoration company and involve the entire family in the process.
Trust the restoration experts at SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak for storm damage restoration and flood restoration services. Let the children know a team of highly trained, well-equipped, and caring professionals are available 24/7 to provide emergency cleanup and restoration services in the event of storm damage. For older, mature children, consider adding SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak to their cell phone contacts.
To learn more about storm damage cleanup in Corsicana, TX, call SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak at (972) 937-1494. The office can also be reached by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com