Funnel clouds and magic wands: How to answer your child’s questions when natural disaster strikes
Try to shield young children from tragedy. Younger kiddos will likely have difficulty understanding “why” and “how” natural disasters occur and don’t need to know. If your young child does ask questions, keep your answers concrete and brief (e.g. “A tornado is a very strong storm cloud that looks like a funnel. It hurt many people and ruined house and schools, but now the people are safe and everyone is helping them.”)
Show appropriate emotions (you can let your kids see that you are sad, as this is appropriate to the situation). However, don’t go overboard. If you are crying hysterically, wait until your own emotions are in check before talking to your child. You are your kiddo’s rock; and your child needs to see you are stable and handling the situation effectively.
Encourage your child or teen to share and express his/her feelings and emotions with you. Do not discount your child’s feelings (e.g. if your child says, “I feel scared” say, “Yes, I understand. What happened was very scary,” instead of, “There’s no reason to feel scared.”)
For more ideas and resources on how to talk to your children about disaster, check out: