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The recent floods in Australia have been devastating for the community. Because of this, we’ve collected some useful strategies to help with disaster recovery and coping strategies. More specifically, we focus on the impact these events can have on children.

Disaster Recovery Strategies

  1. Take your time. Take your time to gradually go through the experience rather than trying to block out the pain.
  2. Go through your feelings. Rather than bottling up your feelings, allow yourself permission to feel your emotions and process the event. Remember there is no wrong or right way to do this.
  3. Stay positive. Remind yourself that things will get better, you have the ability to manage the situation and you will recover in your own time.
  4. Seek social support. Spend time with people who are going to support you and don’t be afraid to let them know what you need. If you aren’t comfortable opening up to people, you can always try using a diary or art.
  5. Make a routine. Maintain a balanced routine, keeping busy but also relaxing, including exercise.
  6. Avoid big changes. Avoid making any major decisions or big life changes until you feel you have recovered.

The Impact on Children

Children can have a difficult time describing and expressing their emotions. Subsequently, it is important that we can recognise the behaviour changes that come with trauma from disaster. Here’s a list of the possible symptoms that suggest a child could be feeling distressed by disaster:

  • Often talking about the disaster
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Irritability, anger or tantrums
  • Eating less
  • Withdrawing
  • Attention issues

How can we help children deal with disaster

  1. Comfort, reassure and support them. Let them know that they are safe and looked after, helping them to re-establish their routines. Spend more time with them and open avenues of play that can help them to express themselves in different ways.
  2. Check with their facts. Check what your children know and correct any misconceptions about the disaster. Make sure your responses are appropriate for their age and that you are more focused on reassurance than fact.
  3. Listen. Encourage your child to express their concerns and listen closely. When you respond keep your own feelings and anxieties to yourself and let them know that you understand how they feel.
  4. Monitor media. Children can become traumatised by having to watch repeated images of the disaster in the media, so make sure you’re careful about what media they are consuming.
  5. Watch how you talk. Some conversations are best had between adults, so make sure that children don’t hear about distressing news if its not appropriate for their age.
  6. Care for yourself. If you keep yourself cared for you’ll be in a better place to respond to the needs of your children.

If you feel that you need professional help with coping with disaster, contact us today and we’ll help you to make a booking.

References

https://psychology.org.au/getmedia/49175b2c-9e9e-44df-a8a6-630333bb8290/20aps-is-recovering-from-natural-disasters-p1.pdf

https://psychology.org.au/for-the-public/psychology-topics/disasters/floods/recovering-from-floods/looking-after-children-affected-by-floods