Talking to Your Child about Super-Storm Sandy

Nov 20, 2012

Last week I sat down with my three-year-old son to color and he told me he was drawing “Frankenstorm”. His picture was just a white piece of paper with different colored lines and scribbles, but to him it was something else. He detailed the power going out in our house, and his fears when he heard adults discussing the generator downstairs. He gave specifics of the night of October 29th, including the wind and the noise the rain made. Our conversation was enlightening and amazing for me as a parent, but what I quickly realized was that my son had a lot of questions and misinformation.

As with any major event in a child’s life, it should always be discussed at home. Young children feel very vulnerable when life seems out-of-the-ordinary, as so many of our lives were, for at the very least a few days.

Here are a few tips for having a conversation about Super-Storm Sandy:

  1. Talk honestly with your young child in an age appropriate way. Ask your child questions about Super-Storm Sandy; it may surprise you how much he knows. Be sure to listen to all that your child has to say and ask him questions. It is ok to acknowledge that it was a scary storm and that things in our area have changed. It is important that he leaves the conversation knowing that this is not the type of weather that occurs often, and that meteorologists can predict these storms to give people enough warning to be prepared whatever that may mean.
  2. Sort out fact and fiction. Your child may have seen/heard some things that are untrue and really frightening. Make sure you are honest about what is real and scary, but assuage any misinformed fears. Very often children have misunderstood things said between adults or from different media outlets and have created fears that are unfounded.
  3. Let your child know that even though he is young, his help is still necessary. Find something for your child to do to help others so he feels that a contribution has been made. Make sure you back this action up with the thought that community members help each other. Your child should feel comfort that he has helped someone else, and that if he ever needed help, the community would return the favor.
  4. Create a plan for the future. Children are creatures of habit and find comfort in knowing what will come next in all situations. Let your child know what the plan is in case of a hurricane or bad storm in the future. This may include having a specific spot for the flashlight, creating a small bag or box of non-perishable foods and water, and discussing what the sleeping arrangements would be if they deviate from the norm, as well as any other special circumstances that may arise. It is also a good idea to give a child a specific job in this situation; this often makes children feel responsible, and gives a distraction from the frightening aspect of a storm.

No matter what your child’s reaction to this storm, or how deeply his or her life has been impacted, it is important to have a discussion that is open, honest, and above all, age appropriate. Make sure your big goal is to make sure your child has all the facts and feels safe and secure. Even though Super-Storm Sandy was three weeks ago, it is not too late to have this discussion; young children may not approach you about these fears until they are in the throws of panic that may be set off by a small thunderstorm.

Here are some resources that may be helpful:

I hope some of this information is helpful.

Wishing you peaceful parenting,
Christin Clark