c. Natural disasters can traumatize children gravely and it takes a lot of effort and patience for helping children mentally overcome the event suffered.
According to specialists after a catastrophe, children can suffer emotional effects and behavior changes for months or even years. This may affect the family environment due to the attitude of the children or the parents themselves who may also experience strong emotions regarding the tragedy they suffered.
After a natural disaster, parents may not realize the anxiety their children feel, and might not recognize complains about physical discomforts such as headaches or stomach aches caused by stress. They may have trouble sleeping and have more frequent nightmares, especially about the disaster. During the day they may have re-lived memories or the case of young children expressing their strong feelings through play.
Fear of storms or talking about the disaster as if it were a person chasing them. Let your children know that it is normal that they have these feelings and they don’t have to hide them from other family members.
Their school performance can be affected; the grades may go down and the child can become rude. The intensity of the reactions depends on the danger that has run from family losses and the way they have confronted the catastrophe as well as the home environment post-disaster.
More significant behavioral changes may be symptoms that require the support of mental health professionals. Destructive attitudes, having frequent panic attacks or abusing toxic substances require immediate intervention.
Teach them to deal with frustration
After the whole natural catastrophe process, teach your child to deal with the frustration of the moment, to help him overcome the trauma. As parents, we want to make our children’s lives easier and give them everything they want. But sometimes disappointments are inevitable, and the child is frustrated that there were changes of plans or that he can no longer sleep at his friend’s house, or go to the movies. In these cases, it is better to let the child express his frustration, since when his feelings are not known, what begins with a simple complaint can quickly escalate.
With sensitivity and without confronting him for being a bad or unhappy child, let him know that you understand how he feels and offers him alternatives. With this, you teach that sometimes things do not go as planned, and that it is normal to feel disappointed in those cases but that you have to overcome it and look for alternatives. When a child learns to apply emotional intelligence to strong situations and feels sincere support from his family, teachers, and friends, he will be able to retake his normal life sooner than later after the strong situation has passed.