Kim Allen, former State Specialist, & Sarah Harr, former Intern, Human Development & Family Studies, University of Missouri Extension
Families who weather a particularly bad storm are likely to experience
stress. Any time there is an undesired change, there is potential
for stress. When children are involved, it is important that parents
understand the affects of such stress and to know what they can
do to help their family cope.
Emotional reactions differ from person to person, depending on
their experiences and temperament and depending on the severity
of the storm. Some may feel as though a storm was traumatic while
others might see it as much less significant. For children, any
change can be stressful, especially prolonged changes. Parents can
tell a lot about their child’s mental wellness by observing their
Signs of stress may include:
- Changes of habits (eating, sleeping, anything out of the ordinary)
- Regressive behavior
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor eye contact
Although we all experience stress from time to time, prolonged
stress can have short or long-term effects on children. Parents
can take steps to reduce stress and help their children cope in
Try to have fun and remain positive. Although we cannot
control the weather, we can certainly control our reaction to it.
Talk about feelings, normalize the situation and LISTEN.
Giving children permission to talk about the stressful events can
help them process and understand what they are feeling.
Talk about what is happening, and what is expected to happen.
We may not know when the electricity will return, but we can explain
that the situation is temporary and reassure children that they
Be supportive. This is a time of uncertainty, and children
are likely to need extra affection and nurturing. This is a time
to work through issues with patience and understanding.
Remain consistent. Keeping a routine helps children feel
that they are supported and safe, so let them know what is going
to happen, and stick to a schedule whenever possible.
Involve children in finding solutions. When children are
feeling irritable, it can be comforting for them to help in the
decision-making process. Perhaps they can decide which game to play or
decide which food to eat.
Take care of yourself. It is much easier to be a supportive
parent when we take time for ourselves. This includes getting plenty
of exercise and eating well.
Utilize external support. Many families find situations such as these as a time for bonding. If you need help, reach out and ask for it.
Last update: Monday, July 11, 2011