Folks at the Children’s Television Workshop have put together a toolkit for helping young kids understand and cope with Hurricane Irene this weekend. A series of five videos, taken directly from “Sesame Street,” show some of their favorite characters hunkering down, staying safe and feeling scared during a hurricane.
They also offer these 10 tips for parents and caregivers. The upshot: it’s OK to be scared. Identify the feelings and let the kids talk.
1. Give kids the facts
Talk at their level, of course, but let them know it’s a big windy, rainy storm that could make a lot of noise and mess up the place. Let them know, though, that adults are doing their best to keep children safe.
2. Comfort your children
Which starts with comforting yourself! Kids take their emotional cues from the grown-ups around them. Use language they understand and tell them your keeping them safe, it’s not their fault and that you love them.
3. Listen and talk to your kids
That means letting them talk if they want to or letting them play if they’re not ready to express themselves.
4. Try to keep a normal routine
So things feel predictable and in control.
5. Spend time with your children
Even if your home bear the brunt of the storm and clean-up consumes you, take some time every day to play with your child. Let them know they’re important.
6. Pay attention to signs of stress
Bed-wetting, aggression, etc., can be how children demonstrate they’re feeling stress and anxiety. Reach out to the pros for help, if necessary.
7. Monitor media use
Images from natural disasters repeat long after the storm has passed. Kids often think this means it’s happening again and again.
8. Empower your children
Let them help with clean-up — of their own home, or even the neighbors’.
9. Take care of yourself
Get rest, eat well and accept the help of others. Reach out to the support systems that are out there.
10. Inspire a sense of hope
Acknowledge that some things have changed! But remind them they can “hold on to them in their hearts.” Remind them that you still have each other.
Photo: NASA Goddard Phot and Video via flickr
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