After the Storm: Part 1
After The Storm: Part 1 (Ages 6 and Under)
Over the next few days, we will be sharing a series of blogs related to coping with stressful events, like the recent storms in Jacksonville, AL. Each blog will focus on different age groups. Today, we are focused on children ages 6 and below.
Typical Behaviors: During and after events, like the recent storms, people can experience a great amount of stress – children are no different. This stress can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms or behaviors. Those most typically seen in children ages 6 and under are:
- Change In Behavior: Becoming more aggressive than usual, becoming much quieter, etc.
- Return To Previous Behaviors: Clinging to parents, bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, etc.
- Night Fears or Trouble Sleeping
- Physical Pain: Including headaches or stomach aches
- Heightened Response or Sensitivity to Loud or Sudden Noises
- Change In Appetite: Eating more or less than normal
When To Seek Professional Help: When it comes to seeking professional help, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Seek professional help if any of the behaviors listed above persist for more than a few weeks, behaviors continue to worsen over time, or behaviors begin to interfere with day-to-day activities. As a parent, trust your instincts. If you feel your child needs professional help, even if the guidelines above aren’t met, seek help. It is always better to err on the side of caution.
Tips To Help Your Child: There are several things you can do as a parent to help your child cope with a stressful event, like the recent storms. A few of those things are:
- Answer questions honestly, but briefly. Use simple words, and try to keep an optimistic tone.
- Remind your child that they are safe and that you will take care of them.
- Enjoy family time together- watch a movie, play a game, etc.
- Try to keep to your normal routines. If you can’t keep to your normal routines, establish new, but consistent routines.
- Protect your children from news coverage and images from the event.
- Point out caring people in the community and explain how those people are helping.
- Find a way to involve your child in the rebuilding process – maybe they have some old toys they can donate or let them come with you to take a meal to a neighbor.
- Allow your child to grieve their loss(es). It may seem silly to be sad over a lost toy when someone else lost more, but to your child – it’s important. Try not to minimize their grieving.
- Praise age appropriate behavior. You may be way past the days of applauding when your toddler uses the potty, but this is a time to start that back up. Celebrate them!
- Give your child the opportunity to discuss what happened, but don’t pressure them if they aren’t ready.
- Create a family disaster plan together. Creating a plan will help your child feel more in control if a similar event happens in the future. Creating a plan also provides an opportunity to discuss what happened.
Resources – Local & Online
- Disaster Recovery Center: The Disaster Recovery Center is located in the Jacksonville Train Depot (map). This is designed to be a one-stop shop for all the resources you need, including mental health and counseling services.
- School Counselor: If your child is enrolled in school, the school counselor can help you assess behaviors and connect you with resources you may be needing.
- Pediatrician: Contact your child’s pediatrician to keep them informed of your child’s behaviors and for resources and recommendations.
- Garrett Counseling: You are also welcome to contact our office. We accept most major insurances, and we can be reached at (256) 239-5662.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
- TTY: 1-800-846-8517
- Text TalkWithUs to 66746
- 8 Books To Help Children Understand Natural Disasters And Cope With Anxiety
- PBS Kids – Arthur Family Health – Resilience
- Sesame Street Pals Help Kids Cope With Trauma