Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Talking To Your Child About Natural Disasters

Talking To Your Child About Natural Disasters
1. Explore your child's thoughts. If they ask a question inquire further. Find out what they know and how they feel about it. Don't assume and remember children have great imaginations.
2. Validate their feelings. For example, "That is a scary thought." This will encourage your child to talk to you in the future about their feelings and let them know it's okay to have these feelings. Statements like "don't feel scared" do not stop a child from having fears - that is about you not them.
3. Remind your child you, their family and friends, and teachers work hard to keep them safe. Discuss your family's safety plans should a natural disaster occur. Show your child you are prepared. Remember to speak calmly. For example, "Parents and schools have plans to keep kids safe."
4. If appropriate get concrete with your information. For example, "Mom has lived here for 30 years which is 10950 days and we have never had an earthquake in all those days." If you have experienced a natural disaster such as a hurricane remind your child of the number of days a hurricane did not occur. Additionally, and importantly, count all of the people your child knows that had experienced the disaster and are okay and safe.
6. Make explanations simple.
6. Offer a way for your child to help such as gathering clothes or food to send to those in need - or offer a volunteer experience close to home where your child can feel helpful. This gives them a sense of control. Volunteering helps reduce anxiety as well.

7. If your family was significantly affected by a natural disaster it is helpful to seek additional support through a therapist or school counselor for your child and your family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How To Talk To Your Child About Preparing For A Hurricane

How To Talk To Your Child About Preparing For A Hurricane 

     As Sandy is approaching the East Coast many parents are trying to prepare their children for the storm. Here are a few tips for talking to your child in preparation for a Hurricane.

1. Explain the situation in simple and non-threatening words. For example, " Mommy and Daddy are buying flashlights and water for a  hurricane or storm. This means there might be loud rain, maybe some thunder, and wind. Sometimes the wind can be loud and make the lights go out but you are safe."

2. Always remind your child they are safe. Discuss how you are going to keep them physically and emotionally safe.

3. Physical safety: Remind your child you are prepared and the home is secure.  For example, discuss how you bought plenty of flashlights, batteries, water, and snacks in case you lose electricity. Show them you have charged your phone and help your child charge theirs if they have one. Show your child where all emergency phone numbers are kept and review  your family's emergency plan.

4. In case of an evacuation: If you are informed to evacuate simply explain to your child you are leaving your home because there might be strong wind and a lot of rain. Remind them it is a precaution - like having a "snow day" from school - to help keep everyone safe. Help your child pack some comfort items to bring with you.

5. Emotional safety: Make a plan with your child in case they get nervous. Remind them the noise can be scary but they are safe at home. Discuss what they will do if they are nervous. For example your child can talk to you, use play dough or a stress ball, hug their comfort item, listen to their Ipod or use noise canceling head phones to help decrease noise.

6. Prepare some games and toys in case you lose electricity. Crayons, coloring books, cards, DVDs (if you have access to a portable DVD player or laptop), favorite stuffed animal or blanket.
7. Keep calm and keep the news to a minimum in front of your child. If you appear calm and prepared your child will feel secure and less anxious.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Feelings Thermometer: How to Help Your Child Communicate Their Feelings

     Do you wonder what your child is feeling when they are unable to express themselves?  "The Feelings Thermometer" is a simple tool to support your child to express their feelings.
    Using The Feelings Thermometer is simple. Our thermometer is based on a 1-10 scale. 10 represents the "hot thoughts" - the highest degree of  feeling. The thermometer can be used for any feeling -  nervousness, anger, sadness, loneliness, embarrassment, and happiness.
    When using the thermometer I recommend
1. Exploring the emotion and degree to which they are experiencing their emotion.
2  Validating their feelings.
3. Discuss coping tools and strategies to deal with their emotions.
4. Praise! Praise your child for their efforts in expressing their feelings with you.

     I recently used the Feelings Thermometer with a group of youngsters participating in a support group for children with food allergies. They loved coloring their thermometer and were excited to share their feelings with the group. The thermometer was a fun, non-threatening tool to help the group safely discuss their worries.

     Two photos are attached. Check in soon with our website, for free printables of The Feelings Thermometer.