Navigation Links
For Kids, Natural Disasters Can Whip Up Worries

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Floods. Tornadoes. Tsunamis. Terrorism. War. Predictions of Rapture and Armageddon.

Current events have left adults reeling as one disaster seems to come hot on the heels of the last with no relent and no apparent end in sight.

Imagine, then, how kids are coping.

"For kids who are worriers, they see this stuff is everywhere," said Robin Goodman, a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City and a member of the American Psychological Association. "They think, 'It can happen to anyone. We could be next.'"

Experts say parents need to be aware of the effect that the daily drumbeat of disaster, natural or otherwise, can have on children's sense of security and well-being, and be ready to support kids who need help understanding how these events affect them.

Kids who have grown up in today's media-saturated environment are more prone to be affected by news of disaster, said Todd Walker, a psychologist in private practice in Cincinnati and a member of the clinical faculty of the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology.

"Even more now than in previous generations, there's less of a distinction between real life and what you see on TV," Walker said. "In this day and age, watching things online or on TV is just one step removed from the event itself."

This may be particularly true for preschool children, who aren't yet media-savvy. "Young kids don't understand that it's the same newsreel over and over," Goodman said of day-long coverage of a particular event. "They think it's the same event occurring over and over."

The effect of disaster coverage can be compounded for children who are undergoing emotional trauma in their daily life, Walker said. For example, kids whose parents are fighting and about to divorce are much more likely to be affected by news coverage before, during and after a hurricane or earthquake, like that experienced in the eastern United States in the past week.

"At best, it would be, 'Uh oh, this could happen to us,'" he said. "But let's imagine we're kids: I'm 6 and you're 8, we don't know what is exactly going to happen with our parents and we're watching [a disaster unfolding] on TV. Our experience will be different than if we had a happy family life."

Walker and Goodman said the best thing parents can do to reassure their children is to talk with them about the disaster coverage in an honest and straightforward way.

"I always believe in asking, 'Hey, I saw you watching that show. What's that like for you?'" Walker said.

Parents may feel the need to hide their own feelings of anxiety to better protect their kids, but Walker and Goodman cautioned against that.

"Be honest in the communication as much as possible," Goodman said. "If you lie about it, they may feel they can't trust you."

It's better for parents to admit they're nervous, but then reassure the child that everything will be all right, Walker said. Give concrete examples of why the disaster couldn't happen to them or lay out the steps you'll take to keep them safe if, in fact, the possibility exists.

Other tips for helping kids cope with news of disasters, according to Walker and Goodman, include:

  • Limit the children's exposure to media, and consider cutting back yourself. "Don't be checking the news all the time," Goodman said.
  • Keep to a daily routine because that reinforces the understanding that life continues to be normal.
  • Avoid whispering with other adults about the disaster. Kids may think the whispered conversation is about them.
  • Point out hopeful stories that come out of the disaster, and note the fact that agencies like the American Red Cross are on the scene to help out.
  • Consider volunteering or donating to relief efforts with your children so they'll feel that they're making a contribution.

But also keep in mind that all kids are different. Some kids might actually benefit from watching disaster coverage.

"Sometimes TV can create a bonding experience," Walker said, using the example of a young boy. "He sees somebody going through a disaster and it can actually be calming because he knows he's not the only person going through a rough time."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health & Human Development has more about helping kids cope with crises.

SOURCES: Robin Goodman, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, New York City; Todd Walker, Psy.D., psychologist, Cincinnati, and clinical faculty member, School of Professional Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. When Seniors Tutor Kids, They Sharpen Their Own Minds As Well
2. Launch of New Book, What to Do for Heavy Kids, Coincides with First Lady's Campaign to Fight Childhood Obesity
3. Science Says Flavored Milk is Good for Kids, Unlike Soda
4. Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
5. For Autistic Kids, IQ May Not Predict School Achievement
6. Most Parents Vaccinate Kids, Trust Docs Advice on Shots
7. Football Legend Steve Young Urges Kids, Parents to Play It Safe
8. Low levels of natural antibodies behind stroke
9. Whitemark Homes, Inc. Announces Corporate Update on Merger With Ribbon Naturals Corp.
10. Foamsource Introduces Natural Slumber 100% Natural Latex Mattresses & Toppers with Free Shipping
11. ThermaSkin Offers Free Natural Pepper Remedy To Acne Sufferers
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
For Kids, Natural Disasters Can Whip Up Worries
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... , ... The Bill Howe Family of Companies is an award winning HVAC ... remediation services. Family-owned and operated for 35 years, they have maintained value, ethics and ... two years in a row from the Union Tribune Reader’s Poll, a Healthiest Company ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 13, 2015 , ... Doulagivers is O'Brien's licensed training program ... End of Life Doula Training. A Doulagiver is a non-medical person trained to ... Based on her #1 International bestselling book Creating Positive Passings & The Level ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... North American ... (IBC) at the 2015 IBC National Meeting in Rosemont, IL on October 4th. ... dedication, quality, and standards of excellence that customers have come to expect from members ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... According to an ... female athletes, particularly in the area of track and field, are at a ... than male peers in the same age group. Dr. Steven Meier of Meier ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... 12, 2015 , ... The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis ... education and clinical training in a health care discipline. , Many practitioners ... as: losing weight, managing pain, or stopping smoking, etc. Frequently, extravagant statements and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2015)... Corporation (NASDAQ: LMNX ) today announced that it expects ... 2015 on Monday, November 2, 2015. A press release announcing ... trading. --> --> ... highlights and financial results for the third quarter ended September ... time. . Simply log on to ...
(Date:10/12/2015)...  Millions of smokers worldwide have used vaping to ... An April 2015 study released by a ... cigarettes to be up to 95 percent less harmful ... after the technology was first introduced the potentially harmful ... --> --> Palm Beach Vapors, ...
(Date:10/12/2015)...  In a Sutter Institute of Medical Research study ... and Psychiatry, the blood product intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, ... in patients in the early, pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer,s ... IVIG, extracted from the plasma of more than 1,000 ... protein found in patients with Alzheimer,s disease. Sutter Institute ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: