To cut down on your child’s anxiety, not to mention the cries of “I’m bored,” we’ve compiled a list of things to help calm them during and after a hurricane, and to keep them entertained.
Tell your children that a hurricane is a giant, rainy windstorm that requires a lot of caution.
The more children know about the storm and safety procedures, the more confident they will be. But keep it simple; detailed information is useless if children can’t digest it.
Younger children might have trouble understanding the idea of a hurricane. Talk to them instead about its effects, including why people don’t have electricity.
Ask children, whatever their age, to make a list of what they do during a typical day. Explain to them that those activities might change because of storm damage: School might remain closed; they may not get to play outside; they may have to eat different foods.
Teach real-time lessons
Children should be reminded of their hurricane lessons throughout the year — but they can also learn during a storm and its aftermath. Talk with children about why storm preparations mattered, from shutters to pets to safety kits and supplies, to keep them involved and have a point of reference for future preparation.
Also take note of the soothing items they gravitate toward, or items they missed if they weren’t packed, such as stuffed animals or blankets. Try to remember the games, toys, books and snacks they favor, and encourage the children to remember.
Find fun activities
Even if you’re lacking games, puzzles or a deck of cards, there are good ways to pass the time.
Build a fort. Pillows. Check. Blankets. Check. Sofa cushions. Check. Dining room chairs. Check. Hours of fun. Check.
Play flashlight tag if you’re sure you have enough batteries. It’s an oldie but goodie and will have parents giggling like schoolgirls along with their kids.
Conduct a scavenger hunt. With or without a flashlight, searching the house for treasure can keep kids (and parents) busy for hours. And it’s so much more fun to bump around in the dark to find that long lost doll or forgotten box of toy cars.
Some variations to try: Hide pieces of a puzzle around the house (be sure to keep count). When you’ve found all of the pieces, you have another project to work on. You can also use your digital camera as part of the fun. Take a picture of something — make sure it is cropped closely and isn’t too easily identifiable — and ask the other players to find it.
Talk to your kids
During and after the storm, it’s important to talk to your children, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Encourage them to ask questions and express concerns. Reassure them that they are safe, stay upbeat, keep them busy and maintain regular family routines.
Children are influenced by the adults around them, so remaining calm and staying aware of adult conversations about the hurricane’s aftermath will help your child weather any storm.