Helping Kids Understand the Disaster in Haiti
The enormity and randomness of natural disasters such as the one
that devastatedHaiti this week is truly overwhelming. If we’re
having difficulty coming to terms with the myriad of emotions and
paralyzing impressions as adults, you can imagine how challenging this
has been for our kids, regardless of age, to start to make sense of.
A few years back around a similarly challenging world event, I
discussed the issue of talking with kids about tough world events with
Dr. Paula Rausch from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston,
Massachusetts. You can my full column with her advice here but the bottom line is to reassure our kids about how rare these events are and that they are currently safe.
In addition, it’s important to monitor the news coverage. It’s
tempting to keep tuning in and see what new developments have occurred
but the images are grim and the stories disturbing. Those are tough
enough for us and even more difficult for our kids.
Many parents wonder what to say to their kids and how much to talk
about world events. Your kids temperment, personality and age will be
your ultimate guide. Small children, preschoolers and kindergartners,
really don’t need to know much, if anything. Their lack of life
experience and fancifull imaginations make it difficult to grasp the
For older children, stick to the facts and be ready to answer
questions as they arise. Try and resist the temptation to second guess
their reaction because many older kids take these situations in stride
while others become very emotional, in total disbelief that others have
been so impacted by a world event.
For older kids, middle school and high school, these tough world
events bring out their need to help. With so many ways to give and
donate aid to Haiti via texting and even iTunes, encourage your kids to
give if they feel so inclined. That will help them feel less afraid and
part of the solution to helping a country in need and rescuing kids in
trouble, which tends to be very important to tweens and teens. Even
collecting spare change and bringing it to the local Red Cross will
make them feel incredibly proud they’ve done something to help a
If you find your child is acting out because of the Haiti situation
or acting anxious, call your pediatrician to discuss. Some kids do find
these situations very troubling and need some extra support.
For more information check out this link.
Finally, if you and your family are interested in making a donation to Haiti relief efforts, here are the links:
Or, if you have iTunes, you can go to the iTunes store and look for
the Donate to Haiti Relief button on the iTunes Store home page which
will take you to this page: