It is that time again: hurricane season.
We need to be physically ready for storms and hurricanes that could come our way during hurricane season. However, we also need to be prepared to engage our children when it comes to all that they are seeing and experiencing during hurricane season too. While it is not an easy topic to discuss, it is one we need to address.
Hurricane season presents an opportunity to teach our kids important life lessons in the context of a stressful situation. Here are 5 tips for parents to turn a negative circumstance into a positive experience that will help shape our children’s character into the strong, resilient women and men we strive to raise.
1. Talk to your kids
Communication is key in every situation we face in life, especially when it comes to one that could have a negative outcome. Therefore, mom and dad should agree on the best approach to explain to the kids what’s happening and what’s the plan. Are you evacuating the city or staying home? Have an honest conversation and be prepared to answer questions.
2. Choose your words wisely and remember that attitudes and reactions matter
We are our children’s reference for everything in life. They are constantly looking up to us and taking mental notes of what we say. How we react to what we see on the news and what we hear from family and friends, is crucial. Because this information is stored in their minds, it will influence how they handle stressful circumstances in the future. Do we want to raise strong men and women that will know how to handle frustration and uncertainty throughout their lives? Let’s watch our reactions and lead by example!
3. Remain calm before, during and after
The FIU Center for Children and Families recently published an article about the effects of hurricanes on brain development in children. FIU’s scientists analyzed preliminary findings from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD). This study revealed that children who evacuated under stressful circumstances and those who remained in Irma’s path, showed ”increased post-traumatic stress symptoms. These are the children who felt the impacts of the aftermath first-hand and were exposed to large doses of storm-related media coverage in the affected areas.”
As we go through the experience before, during and after a natural disaster, it is key to take a deep breath and remain calm. If we need to have heated discussions to make important decisions or vent, we need to do it behind closed doors. Let’s protect our children from the negativity surrounding the situation.
4. Involve your children in preparations
Involving the kids in errands and preparations can help ease the stress and make the most out of difficult times. Whether we are packing to evacuate or buying supplies to stay home, spending quality time with our children is ideal. Assigning responsibilities will help them feel appreciated and take their minds off of the negativity and stress.
5. Take this opportunity to teach values and principles
This season gives us a chance to teach our kids life lessons that will stay in their hearts forever. Take advantage of this opportunity. Talk to them (and walk the talk!) about faith, trust, patience, kindness, and love. Any values and principles you may have to put into practice this season are valid!