By: KATE MOON-RAESS, MA, LCPC, Senior Clinical Therapist at 360 Youth Services
The tornado that struck our community on the evening of June 20th may leave your child with questions and reactions from their experience with the storm. Here are some tips to support your child in the days, weeks, and perhaps months following the storm.
-Reassure your child that they are safe.
-Provide space to discuss the storm. Do not be afraid to use the word tornado or storm. Be sure to let them know that they can ask you questions. Provide accurate information about what happened as well as what changes or recovery from the storm may look like. Be BRIEF. Be honest.
-Explain that their town, neighbors and local businesses are working to clean up the storm and support damages caused by the storm.
-Monitor or limit media/social media exposure, especially if your child is overly focused on viewing this information.
-Maintain routine. Routine helps children feel safe and secure, especially in times of chaos and disruption.
-Pay attention to storm reminders. Check in about their feelings, and even directly ask if they feel reminded of the storm. Reminders could be dark clouds, wind, or even the monthly siren. Set a reminder in your phone for the next monthly test so you can prepare your child before it sounds.
-Consider volunteering for clean up or repairs. This can empower a child/teen to find the things they can control in stressful, uncontrollable situations.
-Possible questions, if developmentally appropriate, to start the conversation: How scared or upset were you during the tornado? How upset have you been since the tornado occurred? At any point, did you think you might die?
If you are uncertain on how to support your child or have concerns about their reaction, reach out to a mental health provider.
You can also find more information on the website of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Click the links below for reactions, responses, and scripts of things to do or say.