What NOT to Say When Your Kids Ask About Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has devasted parts of southern Texas and we are all trying to comprehend the physical and emotional damage left in its wake.  In times like these, we find our children asking questions and trying to make sense of these tragedies as well.  In talking to your kids at home, or in the classroom, here are some things you should avoid saying.

1.  "It's OK, hurricanes don't happen where we live."
That may be true, but every community has risks and threats they need to prepare for.  Concentrate on the people and procedures you have in place in your community, in your school, and at home, to help keep people safe no matter what the emergency.

2.  "Let's donate money."
Instead of providing a specific way to help, ask your children how they would like to help.  They may surprise you with their unique ideas and their generosity.  Allowing them to come up with a solution encourages them to build empathetic and creative thinking skills and to demonstrate autonomy and ownership.  

3.  "Here's what I know about Hurricane Harvey."
Instead of telling kids about what you've heard, seen, or witnessed, let them start talking.  Ask them what they know or may have heard from their friends or from TV.  Clear up any misconceptions, and ask them what other questions they have.  Respond with simple, clear, and age-appropriate answers.  We too often assume what kids want to know about difficult topics and give them much more information than needed to help them understand.  

More Resources
For more on helping kids cope with disasters, read this guide from NAEYC.
NPR provides a number of ideas in this article on how to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.