Helping Kids Cope With Natural Disasters
Tips and expert advice for teachers and parents on reassuring children after natural disasters strike.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Along with the rest of the country, we at Scholastic are devastated by the events in Oklahoma. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected, as well as the people working night and day on rescue and recovery.
This collection of tips, articles, and resources provides expert advice about how to talk to children about natural disasters that might frighten them. Teachers can both reassure their students, as well as equip them with knowledge of storms and natural disasters.
With the knowledge that books can bring comfort to children in distressed situations, Scholastic will be part of the long-term recovery in Oklahoma when we will be able to support the teachers, students, families and the entire community with books and learning materials that will help them return to normalcy.
Tips for Teachers
- Take the time to talk. Let students talk about their feelings and assure them what they are feeling is normal. Remember that some children may not want to talk about their feelings. Encourage these students to express themselves through writing, art, and other projects.
- Use language children will understand. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Young children need simple information they can understand and need to be reminded that they are safe. Older students will have questions and will need an opportunity to express their range of emotions.
- Monitor and limit television and news. Developmentally inappropriate information and overexposure to news of the event can cause more anxiety or fear, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be careful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children.
Expert Advice on Talking With Kids
Recognizing the signs of trauma and providing reassurance can help kids rebound from traumatic events.
Kids hear about tragic and disturbing events at school, at home, and through the media, and their concerns often come up in the classroom. What's the best way to deal with them?
Keep misinformation to a minimum: Ask your child what he knows and answer his questions sensitively. From the Scholastic Parents site.
Guidelines for coping with young children’s concerns and confusion about violence, death, divorce, drugs, and other difficult issues
Resources for Coping With Trauma
These age-specific guides about talking to preschoolers, school-aged children, and adolescents after traumatic events are available as PDFs in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish. From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).
News and Resources on Natural Disasters
A powerful twister destroys whole communities around Oklahoma City
More tornadoes rip across the United States than any other country. Which states do they affect the most?
Students take a close look at hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, and more!
Teaching resources for grades K–12 to help you discuss hurricane season and explain how storms such as Hurricane Sandy develop.
The Kids Press Corps interviews a FEMA Administrator who explains how kids can take part in severe weather preparedness