For parents who have children, and are going through hurricane Harvey and Irma, remember they are living through this traumatic event too. There are so many fearful and sad things happening in the adult world, that you may forget that these fearful and sad things are happening in your child's world as well.
The storm may pass and life may return to normal for you, but children may have a difficult time understanding what has happened, and what is happening. Life may not return to normal for them so easily.
What you do during and after the storm is very important to your child's current and future emotional well-being.
How you emotionally respond to this experience, in front of your children, will make a big difference on how they emotionally respond to this experience. If you respond with despair, hopelessness, and anger, your child most likely will respond the same. Your emotional reaction, will have a direct effect on how your child processes this experience today, and the lingering effect it will have on their life in the future.
This experience will test your faith in Christ. What do you truly believe? Your children will learn a lot from you during this time. Rely on your faith. Pray much with your children. Play a game of who can remember the most Bible Scriptures. Keep a song on your lips. Wherever you are, have family devotion. Thank God for whatever you have left, and especially thank Him for each other!.
Here are some other strategies:
1. Stay as calm as possible. Of course you are afraid, your children are afraid too. They have always looked to you for strength: they need it more now than ever.
2. Be positive. It is hard to be positive, but it's important to speak positively in front of your children. Surely, this is a lifetime lesson. Will your children learn to sink in times of trouble, or will they learn to rise above an angry, hopeless outlook, and grow?
3. Be hopeful. You have every right to feel downtrodden and beat up on. You may have lost everything you owned in the storm. Do your absolute best, in this very difficult situation, to be hopeful in front of your children.
4. Be available. Your children could be a very good diversion from all of the chaos that is going on around you. Listen to them. Answer their little questions to the best of your ability. If you don't know the answer, tell them that you don't know. Give them a chance to voice what they are experiencing. They may want to draw pictures or write to express their feelings
5. Remember they have lost things, pets, and unfortunately people too. Your children may need to cry. Let them cry! Let them know that it is normal to feel sad, scared, angry, overwhelmed and out of order or whatever.
6. Take your time. Of course you want to leave this bad chapter in your life behind. Keep in mind we can only travel as fast as the littlest one with us. in other words, don't overlook their emotional needs during this time.
7. There may be an emotional aftermath. Your children may dream about floods, be afraid of water, storms, and darkness: they may develop fears that don't seem to be related to the flood at all. Let them know it's normal to have a fearful response to a fearful event. Make a plan, with them, to help them overcome the fears. If you feel your children need more support than you can give, seek professional help.
Storms are always coming. Most of the time we don't get forewarnings. Not all storms are as devastating as hurricanes, but they can all leave emotional scars. Whether it's a hurricane or a divorce the strategies above can help decrease the emotional damage to your children.
A storm is coming your way...what will you do?
If you're in the middle of this crisis, share with us strategies that have been helpful to you and your children to maintain your calm.