Children worry at the time of disaster

AS THE news of Cyclone Marcia spread across the Bundaberg region reports of children becoming scared and worried about what it may mean started to emerge.

B-Transformed Psychologist Katie Murrell said it was important at times like these to reassure children and the best advice is to talk one on one.

"There could be telltale signs when children become worried especially after going through a similar event two years ago," Mrs Murrell said.

"In the preschooler and younger aged group you could see changes in behaviour such as thumb sucking and the child becoming withdrawn.

"Primary ages children may start to have nightmares or lose concentration easily.

"And with teenagers you could see simple things like they start arguing to cover the worry or stress."

Mrs Murrell said it was the minority of children at risk but it was best to talk to children before, during and after disasters happened.

"It's a good idea to encourage the child to talk about it," she said.

"Chatting for a short period of time to reassure them that they are safe and try to promote positive coping and problem solving.

"It's best to listen about concerns and reassure safety for a short period before changing the subject and maybe the atmosphere like going to do something together."

As a local psychologist Mrs Murrell said she would see cases where people became concerned especially after going through the last flood.

"We try to talk through the anxiety, explain and emphasis resilience and that they are safe now," Mrs Murrell said.

"By explaining they got through it last time and they can get through it again.

"Asking questions like how did you get through it back then will help."

Another good question Mrs Murrell said to ask younger children would be to ask what they think a safe place is and ask questions you can answer to make them feel safe.

"Reassuring with a simple plan is often very affective," she said.

"It's most important if parents or carers think the child is worried to talk about it and make them feel safe.


Be calm, be reassuring

Answer questions

Encourage the child to speak with peers, classmates and teachers

Talk it through but keep it brief

Parents should control their feelings

Taking away media which can sometime be the cause of worry

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