17 Nov 2016

'Tell them enough to be safe – and no more than that'

From Nine To Noon, 11:23 am on 17 November 2016

How do you keep a child informed about disaster risk while protecting them from incessant talk of threat?

Johal says that while we are connected to media 24/7 and often have the belief more information will help us piece together a situation, the news agenda can be very negative.

“The way our brains work is that when we’re under threat we look for more threat.”

At such times it’s important to remember we have a choice in how much it’s helpful to expose ourselves – and our children – to bad news, he says.

“There’s only so much information that’s going to make it any more understandable.”

Children take their cue from parents or caregivers, he says.

“They’ll be looking to you for a signal as to how to react to a situation.”

It’s important parents help children identify their emotions.

“When kids are feeling fearful or anxious it’s okay to distract them for a while, but it’s also equally valid to acknowledge that, help them to name that and help them to deal with that.”

Also keep an eye on the mood at school and what’s being said there. Sarb suggests a good way to open up a conversation about school is to ask ‘Who got in trouble today?’,

Get to know what your child’s need for information is, says Johal.

"Tell them enough to be safe, and no more than that."

This information should include what’s in the emergency kit, where the emergency kit is, where they can find a torch and how to drop, cover and hold.

If you feel anxious after the Kaikoura earthquake and aftershocks and would like to talk to someone, Johal recommends calling Healthline.