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Talking to Kids About Natural Disasters

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talking-to-kids-about-natural-disastersWe've got tips on explaining the Oklahoma City tornado to kids.

As adults, it is almost incomprehensible the horror that a natural disaster can inflict upon a community in a matter of minutes. But somehow, while we might not emotionally understand all that people have to endure, we can mentally define and accept how it happens, how at risk we are for future disasters, and how to protect our families. Still, knowing all of this, does not make us prepared to talk to kids about natural disasters.

Talking to kids about natural disasters is very important to maintain their sense of comfort and safety. If we do not discuss with them, then they, especially school age children, will hear about it from others. It will most likely be in a way that is not going to soothe any concerns. That said, depending on a child’s age or ability to comprehend, there are certain details you can include when talking to kids about natural disasters. However, there are also details you should leave out. 

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Discussing the Oklahoma City Tornado With Kids

  1. Do not keep the television tuned into the news around younger kids. They do not fully understand the notion that the media is replaying the events over and over. To children, it actually appears as if the event keeps on happening and the devastation is just repeating itself.
  2. Explain to them what happened in terms they understand. You do not have to get technical, but you should explain what happened on a level they can understand. Be prepared to share a few details, but do not feel like you have to reveal all. Little kids can only absorb and handle so much.
  3. Let them ask questions. When you have your initial conversation, and at any point after, your child should feel comfortable asking you questions. Even if they have already asked it before, their fears or concerns can be tamed by repeated comforting words from you.
  4. Be honest, but also veer the conversation direction to more positive points. For example, yes, some people did get hurt, but there were other people who were able to seek safety in special shelters created in order to protect people from storms like this.
  5. Do not promise them that it will never happen again or to you. You don’t want to assuage a child’s concern with a promise that you just cannot keep. Sure it is oh so tempting, but it can backfire when the next storm hits. Then, their trust in you about that storm as well as other unrelated subjects will be tested. 

As easy as it would be to shield our children from any terrible situation, it’s important to remember that we cannot protect them from everything. Being able to share and discuss with you is another kind of protection for them in the end too. 

For more parenting advice and information, check out poshmom.com

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