ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane season just started last week and Central Florida already dealt with some rain from a potential tropical cyclone.
That means your kids may have some questions about tropical weather.
Dr. Elie Hessel, a pediatric psychologist at Nemours Children’s Health, said it’s important to talk to your kids in age-appropriate language and help give them a sense of control by involving them in getting ready for any approaching storms.
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“So, for example, saying a hurricane is a big storm with lots of rain and thunder and lightning versus giving a ton of information that may be too detailed for them to really process. Talk about things that might happen like it might get really windy, a tree might fall down, but we’ll be safe inside our house,” Hessel said.
She added it’s also essential to give children a sense of control like they are helping.
“Whether that’s asking them to help bring things from outside or letting them pick out a favorite snack when you’re going shopping for food right before a storm,” Hessel said.
Hessel understands it’s important to stay up to date on an impending storm’s path, but she said to carefully monitor what media and images your child is consuming.
“So, for example, younger kids who see the same clip over and over may not understand it’s the same clip and they might be really scared and think that that thing you’re seeing on TV is happening over and over again,” she said. “You just wanna let kids know, that everything we see, everything we hear and everything we interact with has an impact on us. So to the degree that we can, we want to fill our senses with things that make us feel good and happy, not make us feel worried.”
And while our instincts as parents may be to tell our kids not to worry, Hessel suggests another approach.
“Instead say, ‘It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to be worried.’ And then give them examples of what you do when you feel scared or worried about something you’ve seen. (For example), ‘Sometimes when I feel scared I take a slow deep (breaths) and remind myself of the reasons I’m going to be safe.’”