Helping Students Cope

Gaining an understanding of what to expect during a hurricane can go a long way toward alleviating or lessening child anxiety and stress reactions associated with the event. Although all children are unique in their responses to stressful situations, there are some recommendations that may be helpful in preparing the child for the hurricane experience.

Explain the facts about hurricanes. Tell children that hurricanes are large storms that develop over warm ocean waters. They have strong winds, tornadoes and heavy rains and may produce flooding in some areas.

Talk to children about common reactions to approaching hurricanes. Tell children that it is common to have a variety of thoughts, feelings and physical reactions when a storm is approaching. For example, they may feel scared or like crying, or may get a stomachache.

Involve children in helping to prepare for the hurricane. Assign children age-appropriate tasks to assist in preparation for the storm. For example, they may be asked to bring lawn furniture and toys indoors, or may be encouraged to help parents secure shutters.

Direct children to prepare an evacuation or storm activity bag. Children should be encouraged to gather items that will help them pass time, as well as relax. Such items may include board games, portable CD player, IPOD, playing cards, books and stuffed animals.

Reassure children of their safety. It is important to remind children that adults are taking all necessary precautions to keep them safe during the storm.

Limit children's exposure to media coverage. Excessive exposure to storm related media coverage may increase children's anxiety and fear. Parents should offer age-appropriate explanations regarding pertinent media announcements.

Model calm and controlled behavior. It is paramount that adults demonstrate calm and controlled behavior, as children will look to parents for guidance on how to respond to the approaching storm

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