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The Trauma of Wildfires & Other Natural Disasters: Tips for Coping with Anxiety & Talking to Children About It

Natural disasters, like wildfires, are an unfortunate aspect of the world we live in. We have gotten used to hearing about these events, and know how to deal with the negative emotions they may cause. But the same cannot be said for children. For them, hearing about these events on TV can cause stress, fear, anxiety, and other emotions they may not know how to deal with. This is why knowing anxiety coping strategies to help them through these times is important.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help them deal with these feelings in a healthy way. You should also do what you can to help them gain a better understanding of the situation. Wildfire anxiety isn’t something you should treat lightly, and considering that summer is wildfire season in Colorado, now is a good time to teach your child effective anxiety coping strategies. Here are some tips you should keep in mind when talking to your child about natural disasters like wildfires.

Be Present

Even if you teach your child a number of different anxiety coping strategies, this doesn’t mean they won’t need you around. When a natural disaster occurs, you should make yourself more available to your child physically and emotionally.

Let your child take the lead in the conversation

You should never let your own wildfire anxiety or fears lead the conversation. Instead, you should allow your child to drive the conversation. This should prevent you from projecting your emotions onto them. By allowing your child to lead the conversation, they will feel more comfortable expressing what they are feeling.

Try to keep things as normal as possible

When a natural disaster occurs, your child might feel a lot of uncertainty and confusion. One of the best anxiety coping strategies to help keep them calm is keeping everything under your control as normal as possible. Keeping their routine the same will help make them feel safer.

Let Kids Help & Accept Help

After you explain the situation to your child, they might want to know what they can do to help. Research the ways you can get involved to help others with them. This can reduce some of the wildfire anxiety they are feeling, and make them feel like they have a little bit more control over the situation. Additionally, having a specific “job” to do can prevent thoughts of fear and worry from affecting your child.

When it comes to anxiety coping strategies, accepting help is something that can benefit both adults and children. If your family has been affected by a natural disaster, accepting help will show your child how kind other people are. It will also show them that things can and will get better.

Provide Reassurance

Reassuring your child and saying that everything will be all right in the end will help calm the wildfire anxiety your child may be experiencing. Let them know there are firefighters, emergency responders, and trained individuals helping those affected.

Stay Calm Together & Think Ahead

Being proactive is one of the best anxiety coping strategies you can practice together. When you’re more prepared to face a situation, that situation will feel less stressful and chaotic. Make a list of things that can’t be replaced and identify where they are so you can grab them quickly. You may also want to build emergency kits that include food, water, clothing, personal hygiene products, and other essentials. Make sure to involve your children when planning these things.

When the world is overwhelming, seeking professional help can benefit you. denova Collaborative Healthcare is here to help you and your child cope with the stress of natural disasters. We offer 72 hour access to care so you can get help whenever, wherever. Contact us today at 602-230-7373.

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Amanda Keenhold, LAC

Licensed Associate Counselor

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