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Hurricane Sandy caused major damage to the five boroughs when it hit New York City in October, and cleanup is still ongoing. Every family is unique and has unique ways of getting through a tragedy. Here are some ideas that might be useful as you help your children understand and weather the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
If you have been directly affected by the hurricane
• Take care of yourself as much as possible. Make sure you are warmly dressed, drinking liquids, and eating regularly. It is hard to be there for your children if you are not “there” for yourself.
• Keep in touch with close friends and family. Take advantage of whatever trusted help is available. This is not a good time for you or your children to be isolated.
• As things are in flux, understand that it is OK for normal routines and guidance to vary. Once things settle down you can get back on track.
• If at all possible (it may not be) spend a few minutes, or more, a day doing something with your child that he likes to do. This simple act can be reassuring, calming, and generally useful to everyone. Something active (going for a walk, throwing a ball, play wrestling, etc.), can lighten the pressure your family is experiencing.
• If possible, listen to your children tell their stories of the storm. Their perspectives might be different than yours, and getting a chance to share their versions can lower stress. Some children benefit from drawing or writing, as well.
If you are not directly affected by the hurricane
• Remember that children of all ages are aware that something has happened in the city. They notice when adults and their routines, even those outside of their home, seem different.
• Whenever possible, spend time each day playing with your child. This communicates that although some things might be different, key things in his relationships stay the same.
• Times such as these are good opportunities to share your values, remembering to listen as much as you explain. Children often have important perspectives and questions. Even young children need to be given the opportunity to say what is on their minds; this helps them feel less overwhelmed by adult concerns.
• This could be an opportunity to talk to young ones about the importance of neighborhoods and community. You might say that when something happens to one group of people, we all pitch in to make things better. You could also take some time to explain the specifics of the sharing and communicating going on in your neighborhood and beyond. Having a chance to see and understand adults acting together for the common good is very hopeful to children. Enlisting their participation and ideas can also be invaluable.
• Older children are often very aware of societal issues, including those related to the environment. Finding opportunities for them to exchange ideas and actions about organizing, climate change, urban planning, etc. can be invaluable.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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