Hurricane Harvey has decimated the gulf coast from Texas to Louisiana leaving tens of thousands displaced, in emergency shelters, saddened, confused, and left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and a few worldly possessions in hand. As flood waters and death tolls continue to rise even though Harvey is long gone, traumatic disasters such as this, whether natural, (like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc.), or man-made, (such as war), can cause tremendous upheaval in the lives of those affected.
Such experiences as being evacuated from your home without any of your coveted possessions, knowing, that upon your return, your things will all more than likely be completely destroyed beyond repair, is extremely heartbreaking for adults, but even more so for children of any age.
How do you help a child that is facing the reality of a traumatic disaster?
First off, we must remember that children are extremely resilient. At times, children are more resilient than adults. They tend to bounce back quicker and stronger than ever; however, for a small minority of them, the effects of a traumatic disaster can last for years or even a lifetime, leaving them frightened, confused, and insecure whether they have experienced the disaster first-hand or not.
Here are a few signs to watch for and a few tips to help children cope with traumatic disaster.
Children, as they are all different, react to situations in different ways. Reactions can vary according to many factors such as age and environment, among others. Younger children can respond to traumatic events by demonstrating things such as sadness, behavioral issues, bedwetting, sleep problems, separation anxiety from caretakers, among others. Older children may respond to events by displaying anger, aggression, withdrawal, sleep problems, or uncharacteristic indifference.