After the Storm: Part 2
Today, we are on part two of our series on coping with stressful events, like the recent storms in Jacksonville, AL. Today’s focus is on children ages 7-12.
Typical Behaviors: During and after stressful events, both children and adults can experience significant amounts of stress. This stress can present in a variety of symptoms or behaviors. The behaviors or symptoms typically seen in children ages 7-12 include:
- Paying close attention to caregivers or parents to watch their anxiety and fear levels
- Losing interest in usual activities
- Withdrawing from friends
- Becoming focused or preoccupied with safety
- TEMPORARY decrease in grades or school performance
- Physical pain – including stomach aches or headaches
- Increased sensitivity or response to loud/sudden noises
- Difficulty sleeping or night fears
- Clinging to parents or caregivers
When To Seek Professional Help: As a parent, it’s important for you to trust your instincts. If you feel your child needs professional help, seek help. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. However there are a few guidelines that may help you with your decision. You should seek 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.
Tips To Help Your Child: There are several things parents can do to help children cope with a stressful event. Those things include:
- Give your child an opportunity to grieve. It may seem silly for your child to be upset over a lost toy or blanket, but to your child: it’s important. Try not to minimize their grieving.
- Limit your child’s exposure to television coverage or photos of the event.
- Try to keep to normal routines. If normal isn’t possible, work to establish new, but consistent routines.
- Find ways to involve your child in the rebuilding process. Give them a small chore to do at your house, help them donate a few old toys, or take them with you to deliver a meal to a neighbor.
- Let your child know they can talk to you about what happened, but don’t push them to talk if they aren’t ready.
- Temporarily relax some expectations.
- Create a family disaster plan together. Working together to create a plan will give your child a sense of control if a similar event happens in the future, but it will also present 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: The school counselor can help you assess behaviors and connect you with resources you may be needing.
- 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