Calming the Storm
I’ve heard this saying a million times, “Children are our mirrors.” Especially in times of struggle. We as humans are influenced and learn by witnessing other people’s reactions in frightening and stressful situations.
Caregivers and Parents During a Hurricane
As we sit and wait for Hurricane Laura to make landfall, I am certain there are many caregivers and parents struggling with overwhelming emotions. It’s “normal” for all people, no matter who you are, to experience a wide range of emotions in the face of a hurricane or tropical storm.
These storms are unpredictable and so are the reactions and questions from our most vulnerable and precious populations…our children, our elderly and our special needs individuals. We can all agree that the most important aspect of the storm event is keeping our families and loved ones safe, but what about do we do with our own process and emotions? Below is a list of a few behavioral changes and emotions to expect and a list of suggestions to consider as we prepare for the unpredictable.
1. Keep our families and loved ones safe.
2. Be aware of common reactions in yourself and loved ones:
Anxiety and fear
Worrying about safety of self and others including our pets
Physical issues like headaches, body pain and stomach aches
Decreased concentration or attention
Sensitivity to sounds
Regressive behaviors like toilet issues, baby talking and thumb sucking
Irritability, angry outbursts, aggression and tantrums
Withdrawal and isolation
Changes in sleep and eating (increase or decrease)
Increase in high risk behaviors like alcohol and drug use
3. Help Yourself
Ask for help. Be open to receive and provide support to others.
Reassure and repeat. Let them know that yourself and many community leaders will do their very best to keep them safe.
Monitor adult conversations and news broadcasts. Misinterpretation can be frightening and unnecessary.
Practice a coping skill. People can easily sense the emotions of those around them so using a coping skill can help lead by example.
Take care of yourself by eating and sleeping well and encourage others to do the same.
Keep conversations hopeful by identifying the positives.
4. Help Others:
Keep the lines of communication open; finding time to have conversations about what is happening with BRIEF and honest answers.
Try to be flexible and open, prepare for lots of questions
Talk about hurricanes with simple and cognitively appropriate descriptions. You might say, “a hurricane is a tropical storm with very strong winds and lots of rain, lightning and thunder.”
Involve them in the pre-storm preparations like bringing outdoor toys/items inside.
Invite them and involve them in the family disaster plan-- the where and when
Let them gather a few comfort items that are non-electronic in case of power outages
Keep a normal routine if possible. Routines provide comfort and predictability which helps to keep a feel of calm and safe.
Limit media exposure.
Reduce boredom by challenging them to find alternative activities that they can do by themselves or with others. Play with toys and games that they normally don’t.
Stay Safe and ask for help when you need it. We are all in this together.