By Beth Pinyerd
With this year’s longer cold months, we are seeing this platitude ring true with rains and winds. Schools prepare classrooms for bad weather with tornado drills, etc. Living on the coast for 30 years, preparing my classroom of children as well as my own child was a challenge as we knew that a hurricane was heading our way!
Being a teacher and parent, we ask ourselves the question, ‘how can I give my child security in the midst of the storm?’
Children aged one to 12 are trying to assess from their own mental and emotional stages of development: what is happening and what has happened.
With your babies, toddlers and twos, keeping the environment as normal as possible is a high priority at home. They can easily sense emotional upset through facial expression as well as your reactions. To keep your child well physically and emotionally, keep them on a regular schedule of meals and rest when uncertain weather is approaching.
With your three year olds through kindergarten they will verbalize more what they see and feel. Be ready to really spend time in looking in their eyes and really fully listening to what they are expressing. This is a time that you cannot half listen but fully interact with their thoughts and questions.
With your first through sixth graders, you have to be transparent. They will see insecurities whether you admit them or not. Do not try to hide your reactions but channel your reactions to a positive response in outreach to help those who have been hurt by natural disasters.
Our communities are good in coming to the aid of their neighbors when weather disasters hit. Engage your family in the many volunteer activities in the community such as disaster-relief projects. Children can participate in folding, sorting and packaging needed items for the victims.
School-age children can draw and write notes of encouragement to victims as well as help the family gather needed items from the home to give to the victims. The main key is listening and letting your child express himself or herself during this time.
Young children are very sensitive to tone, anxiety and emotions shone. As classroom teachers, we put our students first. Calmness is a No. 1 assignment in taking care of our classroom of students. This is the same with parents in taking care of their children at home.
When storms wipe out communities and homes, there is so much pain. The way our communities handle helping each other and rebuilding our communities is a life lesson learned for our children to put to heart. Together, we can come through a crisis and rebuild our lives.