Recently we've talked about the effects of national events on tweens, and how parents can help by strengthening their adolescent's sense of community. With the tornadoes surrounding Central Texas and the devastation to our neighbors in Oklahoma, where many Texans have loved ones, it may be important to revisit some of the tools on how to talk with your kids about tragedy.
Natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, forest fires, hurricanes and earthquakes can often occur suddenly and with little warning or preparation time. Here in Central Texas we regularly experience many of these events, and having regular conversations with your tween about safety and recovery can be critical.
The National Association of School Psychologists has a great list of resources for parents and teachers on how to help children (and tweens) cope with natural disaster. The Red Cross has issued a statement on the tornado in Moore, OK and is accepting $10 donations by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to help fund disaster relief.
Help your tween spot the warning signs of overwhelm, such as irritability, difficulty sleeping, changing appetite and a dip in school performance. Remember that signs of stress are normal following a natural disaster, and limit media exposure to prevent secondary trauma, which can occur following indirect exposure to traumatic events
When talking with your tween about this and other natural disasters, remember the keys to resilience: Self-care, Connection, Recovery and Spirit. Help them learn ways to cope with natural disasters near and far by taking good care of themselves, reaching out to those in need, building community, taking time to recharge, and becoming empowered through action.