Children’s reactions to the hurricane and its aftermath are strongly influenced by how their parents, teachers and other caregivers cope during and in the aftermath the storm — or any traumatic event. East Rockaway student have been hit especially hard. School district psychologists and social workers shared some ways that parents and other adults can help or young residents. The information here is adapted from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
Focus on Safety first. Reassure your child that they are safe and remind them that you will take care of him or her when things get scary or difficult.
Elementary school psychologists Tina Smith and Peter Mancuso emphasize that’s very important for parents to limit children’s exposure to TV images and adult conversations, because, they say, inappropriate images or information may cause anxiety or confusion. High School psychologist Barbara Gerber added that it’s also important to keep a normal routine and try to do familiar things. “This is reassuring and promotes physical and emotional health,” she said.
When the schools reopened after the storm, and even with the displacement of the junior/senior high students to Baldwin, the staff and faculty in the East Rockaway School District have been focused on helping students, parents and community members feel safe again. The social workers and psychologists spent several weeks simply trying to locate all students and assess their needs and also collected and distributed items to families in need, such as school supplies and clothing, as well as organizing the districts collection and distribution of gift cards. Support staff said that they are also focused on connecting students and families with the resources they need to assist in their ongoing recovery.
Allow expression of feeling. Help your child name how they are feeling and let them know that it is okay to feel that way. Help your child express their feelings in a ways that are healthy and positive (writing, art projects, sports etc).