Earthquakes are frightening for everyone, but they can be even more traumatic for children if they do not know what to do. It is important to give children guidance that may not only help them reduce their fears, but save their lives.
Talk to Children:
Earthquakes can be far less scary to children when they are prepared. It is vital to talk to them and explain how to respond if one occurs.
Plan with Children:
Be sure to include children in the emergency planning process. This not only better prepares them for survival, but may also lighten the burden on parents or guardians during an earthquake. When children know what to do, everyone can keep a sense of calm.
Fear and Life-altering Trauma:
Feelings of fear before, during, and after an earthquake, are natural -- for both adults and children. But children look to adults for help and how you react affects how children react. If you react with alarm, children are more likely to become distressed. If you remain calm, your child may have a less sense of fear and feel more confident in your ability to protect them.
A child's fears also may stem from his or her imagination and you should take these feelings seriously, because a child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.
When you're sure that danger has passed, concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking the child what's uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family's recovery activities will help them feel that their life will return to "normal." Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.