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For Kids, Natural Disasters Can Whip Up Worries
Date:8/29/2011

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 covera
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