Kids and Disasters

Disasters can leave children feeling frightened, confused, and insecure. Whether a child has personally experienced trauma, has merely seen the event on television or heard it discussed by adults, it is important for parents and teachers to be informed and ready to help if reactions to stress begin to occur.

Children respond to trauma in many different ways. Some may have reactions very soon after the event; others may seem to be doing fine for weeks or months and then begin to show worrisome behavior.

  • Two young boys.Reassurance is the key to helping children through a traumatic time.
  • Very young children need a lot of cuddling, as well as verbal support.
  • Answer questions about the disaster honestly, but don't dwell on frightening details or allow the subject to dominate family time indefinitely.
  • Encourage children of all ages to express emotions through conversation, drawing or painting and to find a way to help others who were affected by the disaster.
  • Also, limit the amount of disaster related material (television, etc.) your children are seeing or hearing and pay careful attention to how graphic it is.

Try to maintain a normal household routine and encourage children to participate in recreational activity. Reduce your expectations temporarily about performance in school or at home, perhaps by substituting less demanding responsibilities for normal chores.

Additional information about how to communicate with children can be found on the FEMA for Kids website at and