How do you prepare your child for a hurricane, or any other powerful storm or natural disaster?
With Hurricane Laura closing in on Texas, families across the state are busy preparing their homes and stocking up on food, water, batteries, and other essentials. This can be scary, stressful, and confusing for young children, causing feelings of helplessness or other adverse reactions.
Now is the time to remain calm, offer support, and talk to your child about hurricanes. Sugar Mill Montessori in Sugar Land, TX, explores how families can prepare children for a hurricane, as well as calming activities for children to do while they’re stuck inside.
Let’s get started!
How Parents Can Prepare
It’s always a good idea to talk to kids before hurricane season rolls around, but if you haven’t yet talked to your child, now is a good time to do so!
It’s important for parents to remain calm themselves. Children are very in tune with their parents’ emotions and reactions. Any signs of panic can easily heighten their anxieties. Children can also model the behaviors and reactions of their parents.
Try to monitor conversations you may have with your spouses, other adults, or older children. A young child can potentially misinterpret information they overhear, causing their anxiety and fears to worsen.
While it’s important to stay informed, parents should also limit their child’s exposure to TV and media coverage.
Talking to Your Child About Hurricanes
Children, especially young ones who have no prior experience or memories of a hurricane, will likely have questions. It’s best to answer your child’s questions as simply, gently, and straightforward as possible.
Here are some questions your child may ask, and some possible responses:
What is a hurricane? Where do hurricanes come from?
A hurricane is a large, powerful storm that travels quickly. Hurricanes start as storms that form over warm, tropical water. Because the storm is able to gather more heat and energy from the warm water, it can rapidly become more powerful.
Why is a hurricane so dangerous?
Hurricanes are dangerous because they travel rapidly and cause strong winds, rain, storm surges, and flooding. They can destroy property, cause trees to fall down, and cause power outages. But by preparing and being precautious, you can reassure your family’s safety and protection.
What is going to happen?
First, explain your family’s plan, where you will be staying, and what you will do in case the family needs to leave home. You should also explain that schools and businesses will be closed down and that their daily activities will be different for the time being.
Let your child know that you may not always have an answer, but you are open to all of their questions and will do your best to answer them.
Talk to your child about the importance of listening and working together during this time. The ways we promote peace in the classroom can also apply during emergency situations. This is an opportune time to model graciousness as a parent, remain calm, and redirect tantrums or sibling squabbles.
Engage & Prepare Your Child for a Hurricane
Whether you’re riding out the storm in a safe location or evacuating the area, now is a good time to engage your child and have them help with the preparations.
Have your child help bring in belongings from outside, such as furniture, toys, and other miscellaneous objects that can be swept up by wind.
Your child can also help gather and pack up batteries, water, food, first aid supplies, and other essentials. You can also have them lend a hand when preparing pets for the hurricane and making sure they’re safe and secure.
If your child is going to help put up storm shutters, explain to them why it’s important to stay away from windows and doors during the hurricane.
Make sure every child packs an individual bag with extra clothes and toiletries. They can also pack their own flashlight, favorite books and games, and comforting items, like stuffed animals, blankets, or family photos. Older children can help prepare bags for their younger siblings or other family members.
Engaging your child and allowing them to participate in the preparations can potentially calm some of their anxieties or give them a better sense of control.
Ways You Can Hunker Down Together
Now that your family is prepared for the hurricane, try sticking to a routine. Try to have everyone wake up, go to sleep, and eat meals at the same time every day. Maintaining a routine can help your child feel centered and more secure. You can have children lay out their clothes for the next day and read bedtime stories at night.
What are some calming activities for kids to do while stuck indoors?
- Arts & crafts
- Board games
- Coloring books
- Make a calming jar
- Simon Says
- Tic-tac-toe tournaments
- Card games
- Build a fort
Telling stories or playing charades are good activities for children to do. These activities can also engage adults and older children and help take the storm off everyone’s mind.
Prepare Your Child for Hurricane Season
With hurricane season upon us, now is the time to keep calm, prepare children, and work together as a family. From everyone at Sugar Mill Montessori, we hope you and your family stay safe and healthy!