We are entering what is known as the active part of the hurricane season, so there’s a good chance we’ll be faced with more tropical surprises in the coming months. Will “we,” as the adults, be prepared, mentally and physically for the next hurricane challenge and can we prepare our children so they come through the event with confidence and stamina?
The answer is YES! Here are some tips to help, knowing full-well that our adult friends in this area have been through one or more hurricanes and may have lingering feelings of fear themselves. (My husband, for example, experienced Hurricanes Donna, Andrew, Wilma, Irma and traveled to help family in the devastating aftermath of Katrina and Michael.)
As the possibility of a hurricane approaches, along with the media’s barrage of information, explain calmly what a hurricane is and that we have no control over them. What we CAN do is control our own behavior, take safety precautions and be as prepared as possible and we WILL be. For those children who are still scared after their experience with Irma, acknowledge their feelings and validate that it was a scary time, but together we’ll be better prepared for this one. Ask, will you help with the things we need to do?
Try to put your lingering fears in your pocket. Passing those fears onto your children will not help them positively, so try not to appear to panic and instead face them with a methodical demeanor, with lists of things to accomplish to get ready. Ask them to help with the lists in whatever way they can at their ages. Some examples are; fill bottles with water, clean out the coolers, pick up loose items outside the house or apartment, either go to the library and check out books of interest, including those that can be read aloud with a flashlight, get extra batteries for those flashlights and the children can check to see if they work. If you have battery powered DVD players, ask which movies they’d like to see and head to the library first before you buy or work out an exchange with another family
Have them make their own lists of the snacks and fruit they’d like to munch on during the hurricane, games they’d like to play (makes sure all the decks have 52 cards!), plan for a safe room that is farthest from any windows and stock it with the things to ensure comfort -blankets, pillows, flashlights, drinks, food, books, comfy clothes, etc. For those who like to write and draw, have some blank journals along with the tools. Makes sure cell phones/computers are charging up to the time the power goes out (fingers crossed it doesn’t.)
If you plan to stay, make sure you have fuel for grilling outside and have the children make their lists of what they’d like to eat out of cans or coolers for the next few days. Hopefully, you won’t have to face crowds when you shop.
If you’re driving away from the hurricane, having a place to stay is important. The same organization, and designating the assistance that you need, can take the fear away from your children. They’ll see that you’re in control and gain more confidence. It’s when we, as parents, deteriorate into fear and hysteria that our children’s fear escalates. Speaking calmly and firmly, being positive, commending them on their behavior (when appropriate) and when possible, a sense of humor, will pay off.
Think back on your childhood. Did you feel more settled when the adults around you acted calmly, knowledgeable and mature? And that’s just what you want and need for your own children. Be the Role Model! See you after the hurricane, IF it hits SW Florida.