Health Watch — When Disaster Strikes: Children

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about planning for and responding to disasters. While you want to be prepared for the worst, you don’t want to panic children. How do you face disaster with your children, whether it’s something that affects you directly or something happening half a world away?

Dr. Pete Stavinoha, a child psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says it’s important for parents to maintain a sense of calm and control. If parents panic or act fearful, children will pick up on it. Younger children probably shouldn’t watch television coverage of disasters — whether war coverage or satellite images of an approaching hurricane. If older children watch, parents should watch with them. Children should be allowed to ask questions, and should be given frank, but reassuring, answers. Talk about what you’ve done to prepare for a disaster that might affect you, and make sure children know you have a plan.


September 2007

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