Learn about how children respond to emergencies


How we react to an emergency is very personal. What feels scary to someone else might not feel scary to you. Seeing a parent or parents in distress can set off a crisis for a child, so try to remain focused and calm. Children learn about life from their parents and other adults, so how you deal with an emergency affects how your children handle their lives.

Your role is to help children understand that bad things do happen, but that how we deal with them is what counts. Reassure your child, and remember that actions speak louder than words.Hold your child if that usually makes her feel safer. Some children, particularly older ones, might not want to be touched, so follow their cue. Just be there. Acknowledge the loss or destruction, but emphasise the community's efforts to cleanup and rebuild.

Even if you and your children haven't been directly affected by a particular emergency, the impact of a disaster can be felt through seeing news footage, or seeing the impact that it has had on friends and family. The needs of teenagers can sometimes be overlooked in times of crisis because often they don't feel like talking about what is happening for them.

If after approximately one month you notice a number of unusual behaviours, such as bad dreams, withdrawal, concentration problems, talkative about the event, are continuing to manifest, mental health professionals are specially trained to assist.