After the Storm: Part 3
Today, we are moving on in our series about coping with stressful events – like the storms that recently impacted Jacksonville, AL. Today, our focus is on children ages 12-18.
Typical Behaviors: During and following events like these storms, children and adults can experience stress. This stress can manifest itself in a variety of behaviors or symptoms. The behaviors seen most often in children ages 12-18 include:
- Depression, anxiety, or worrying
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- TEMPORARY problems at school – grades or attendance
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- Becoming more accident prone
- Acting out or rebelling
- Changing future plans – Ex: “I’m not going on that trip now.”
- Focusing only on current things or things in the very near future
- Appetite changes – overeating or undereating
- Focusing completely on themselves
- Seeking revenge
- Engaging in behaviors as a distraction – substance use or risk taking
- Talking about suicide, self-harm, suicide pacts, etc. (**Seek Immediate Help**)
- Life threatening behavior or reenactments of the event (**Seek Immediate Help**)
When To Seek Professional Help: There are a few guidelines that can help you make the decision to seek help. 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. If you’re a parent or caregiver – trust your instincts. If you feel you should seek help for your child, you should do so even if the above guidelines are met. It is always better to err on the side of caution.
Tips To Help Your Child: As a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child. Those things include:
- Limit television or media coverage of the event.
- Try to keep to normal routines. If normal is not possible, work to create new, but consistent, routines.
- Involve your child in the rebuilding process. Give them a chore to do at home, assist them in cleaning up for a neighbor, or take them with you to deliver a meal to someone in need.
- Allow your child opportunity to discuss the event, but don’t pressure them to talk if they aren’t ready.
- Don’t ignore threats of self-harm or harm to others. If your child demonstrates this behavior, seek help immediately.
- Encourage your child to resume normal activities such as social activities, athletics, clubs, youth groups, etc.
- Temporarily relax your expectations for school and general performances.
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