The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: How to help children during times of crisis

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to help children during times of crisis

Whether it was during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, or any other natural disaster, parents are the primary teachers for their children on how to handle a crisis situation.  Here are some pointers on how to help your children accept the temporary state of disorganization…

  1. Keep calm!  When children see their parents angry, loud, and out of control, their personalities degrade quickly.  Yes, it is frustrating to be living in a shelter with many inconveniences, or at home without power and heat, but teach your children through your role-modeling that a serene family island amid an ocean of discord is the best way to weather the aftermaths of the storm.
  2. Keep busy!  Think of games you can play with your children that will amuse and educate them during a time when they have no electronic games or school assignments to complete.  Get creative with your activities.  Develop math games, encourage creative writing, develop plans for the future.
  3. Keep positive!  Think about all the things that you can be thankful for: That there is a Red Cross in place to help, that there are people who want to volunteer with the recovery, and that you are together.  Have your children come up with their own ideas for gratitude during a difficult situation.
  4. Be patient!  Help likely won’t come when you most need it.  However, it will come eventually.  FEMA takes time to process requests.  Volunteers take time to feed everyone and distribute clothing. Linemen take time to restore power. Show your children that all will come together in time, just not in the time they are expecting.
  5. Keep your family together!  If your child wants to play with another child on the other side of the shelter, go with him and take the rest of your family with you, if that is permitted.  If not, remind your child that safety is your primary concern during this difficult period and that you need to stay together.
  6. Use common sense!  During a time of crisis, common sense is usually the first thing to leave our minds.  Help children to remember that they need to think twice before acting.  They need to ask you before leaving your side for whatever reason, even to use the bathroom. 
According to the Dalai Lama, “There are two kinds of happiness - the temporary pleasure derived primarily from material comfort alone and another more enduring comfort that results from the thorough transformation and development of the mind. We can see in our own lives that the latter form of happiness is superior because when our mental state is calm and happy, we can easily put up with minor pains and physical discomforts. On the other hand, when our mind is restless and upset, the most comfortable physical facilities do not make us happy.”   Help your children to have calm, restful minds so they can find comfort within themselves and with their families.

Happy parenting (despite your unfortunate current situation)


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