The documentary on helping children cope with earthquakes screened on TVNZ in June 2011. Video material is available online on the website www.safeandsoundnz.co.nz. This website includes written content and resources.
Please also click on this website 'World Went Wonky' for further helpful resources, a free children's e-book (When Super Billy's World Went Wonky), as well as stories from parents, grandparents and caregivers and how they are helping their children feel safe after such an event.
I thought it would also be helpful to post some things that parents can do to help children cope with these types of events. After the 9/11 tragedy in the US clinicians and researchers held a couple of major international conferences to try and develop some guidelines for what is ‘best practice’ in these situations.
Most ‘disaster responses are based on the idea that most people/children will have some kind of reaction, and that for most people that will fade over time. Children tend to react in the following ways:
As a result clinicians and researchers developed the concept of ‘psychological first aid’, a series of guidelines that were supported by both the best of the current research, and by practical experience on the ground helping children at major incidents. At face value these things all seem a bit obvious, and certainly driven by common sense, but it’s good to know that some of the smartest people in the world have come up with this stuff, and that it has been used in a number of major incidents to really help children deal with traumatic incidents:
On top of all that I’d just add that you should try and shield them from as much of the media stuff as you can, and that returning to routines is hugely important. Going back to school is good, making your bed in the morning is good (even if it’s a cot in a hall), brushing your teeth (where you can), and all that other stuff.
It’s also important too that you look after yourself. You can only help them if your head is in a working space so make sure you take whatever help you can get, and that you give yourself some time to collect your internal resources as needed.
Above all be gentle on yourselves, on your partners, and your kids. These are the most difficult of times and you will all be carrying heavy loads both practically, and emotionally. Be forgiving with each other.
I hope that is of some help, and just remember that the rest of us are thinking of you all as you go through this.
Please also click on this website for further helpful resources, a free children's e-book, as well as stories from parents, grandparents and caregivers and how they are helping their children feel safe after such an event.