Helping children recover emotionally following disaster

From personal experience following Cyclone Larry I know that many children will take time to recover emotionally following the floods this year. There are lots of ways to help your kids through this and I thought I'd share a few here, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below too.

Here are some ways you can help your children to get back on track in the days and weeks following the event:

1. Talk about what happened, try to be calm and honest about what has happened and what will be happening in the clean up stage and beyond.

2. Allowing children the opportunity to tell their story is really important and helps a lot in the long term recovery. Depending on your child's age this can be through drawing pictures, writing stories, poetry or simply telling their story.

3. Encourage children to play. children use play to help them better understand their world and their own emotions. Catherine Oehlman of has written a post about flood play here, and we're supporting the Playgroup Queensland 'Keep kids playing' appeal.

4. Focus on the positive, talk about all the wonderful people helping others, the great work done by the emergency services etc. think of ways your child can be involved in helping too where appropriate, as this can be very healing. Limit negative exposure where possible be especially conscious of the TV news.

5. Find opportunities to socialise with others, being with other kids can be a great way for children to relax and leave their worries behind, its also very important for mums too!

6. Be aware that children whose homes weren't directly affected may still be traumatised by the event. It can be very confronting to see your community in distress. Ensure that these children are given the opportunity to express their emotions too and that their story and experience is as valid as anyone else's.

7. Children pick up on adults reactions - trust your judgment on this one, as its important to be honest and to show them that its ok to be upset but at the same time if you're stressed about insurance claims, financial problems etc they don't really need to know all the ins and outs, just try to be sensitive.

8. It can take several months before things return to normal particularly where homes have been damaged - this is difficult for everyone,

9. Ensure that your emotional needs are met too and that you are looking after yourself, take some time out and accept offers of help from friends and family - if you feel good you're much more capable of looking after your family well. You might find that you are quite resilient and strong for the first week or so and then begin feeling sad and grieving later, allow yourself time to heal.

10. If your child continues to be anxious, fearful or depressed after some time, seek help.

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy, especially the mums we're here for you if you need us.

Peace & Katy xx


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