Like adults, many American children are trying to make sense of the powerful earthquake that rocked Haiti and killed hundreds of thousands of people last month. Talking to kids about devastating disasters like this can be difficult for fathers and mothers who don’t want to subject their children to the horrible facts behind these events. Dr. David Schonfeld from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers some parenting advice on how to speak to children after disasters occur.
Most importantly, Schonfeld says it’s important for parents to keep the lines of communication open with their kids. Fathers should ask their children what they’ve heard and help to clear up any misinformation, misunderstandings and underlying fears. It’s important for parents to tell the truth and assure kids that disasters like these are unlikely to affect your area, if appropriate.
Images of collapsed homes and businesses, and injured people on the news as well as vivid verbal accounts of the devastation may cause children to be even more afraid. Schonfeld suggests limiting kids’ exposure to media about the disaster. He also reminds parents that they may overhear or see things you’re watching.
Schonfeld also reminds fathers to contact a pediatrician or other healthcare provider if they have concerns about their children’s reaction to or behavior from disasters.