Save the Children Releases Expert-Approved Advice for Parents to Help Kids Deal with Post-Disaster Stress
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|Save the Children President and CEO, Carolyn Miles, listens as Kelly, 8 explains the game she is playing with Save the Children staff member Petra Aldrich. Miles visited a shelter in N.J. where Save the Children is setting up safe areas for children to play.
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WESTPORT, Conn. (Nov. 5, 2012)—Whether witnessed in person or through heart-wrenching images on television, disasters like Hurricane Sandy can have a traumatic emotional impact on kids, according to Save the Children. One week after the ‘superstorm’ devastated the East Coast, the organization is releasing tips for parents to help their children cope in the face of fear, destruction and loss.
Based upon years of domestic and international experience of coming to the aid of children in emergencies, Save the Children has developed guidance for families to support their loved ones in the event of a crisis. During the aftermath of Sandy, and in anticipation of a Nor’easter this week, parents can use these tips to help their children feel safe.
10 Tips to Help Kids Cope with Disasters
Limit TV time: Intense media coverage of disasters can frighten young children and disturb teenagers.
Listen: Find out your child’s concerns about the situation. Children often cannot give meaning to a dangerous situation. Begin a dialogue to help them gain a basic understanding that’s appropriate for their age.
Comfort: Let them know their safety is your top priority.
Be Aware: Changes in routine behaviors, such as sleeping pattern or eating habits, can indicate distress. Seek professional support if they persist.
Expect the unexpected: As children develop, their intellectual, physical and emotional capacities change.
Make time: Help kids understand they are safe and secure by talking, playing and engaging in bonding family activities.
Keep calm and carry on: Your child will learn how to deal with these events from you and will model his or her behavior after yours.
Care: Make a point of showing sensitivity toward other families impacted by the disaster. This is an opportunity to teach your children that we all need to help each other.
Routine: Help your children return to normal activities including school, sports and play groups.
Volunteer: Helping others can give your child a sense of control, security and empathy.
Save the Children Responds to Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy forced many families, including thousands of children, to flee their homes and seek refuge in shelters, according to reports by the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA). Save the Children, working with FEMA, the Red Cross, the city of New York and other partners, is creating safe play areas for children at a number of shelters in New York and New Jersey.
"I was in the New Jersey mega shelter yesterday at the Atlantic City Convention Center and I was reminded again how vulnerable children are during a disaster," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "Parents were worried about their children having the essential supplies they need and having transportation to get to schools when they re-open. But most of all, they want them to feel safe and protected. That’s why Save the Children is there in the shelters, providing child friendly spaces and other basic needs for families."
Child-friendly spaces are safe areas where children in shelters can begin to recover from disaster-induced emotional distress through structured play with age-appropriate activity items, such as arts and crafts, jump ropes, books, toys, and board games. In addition to child-friendly spaces, Save the Children is providing basic necessities for young children, including baby blankets, clothing and hygiene supplies.
Said Miles: "On the eve of this election, Save the Children wants to remind all candidates that we must keep children’s needs at the forefront of our national agenda."
Click here to download b-roll taken at a shelter in New Jersey.
To support Save the Children’s response to immediate and ongoing needs following the storm, donate to the Hurricane Sandy Children in Emergencies Fund by visiting: www.savethechildren.org/sandy. Or text HURRICANE to 20222 to donate $10 from your mobile phone. When you receive a text message, reply YES.
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