Me in a Tree

Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’


By Judy Arnall

Children are affected by natural disasters, but their level of understanding varies with their age and language ability. As parents and caregivers, we want to support them and encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts about the event. Here is an ages and stages guide to help you channel their anxiety into positive actions.

Babies: Babies don’t understand anything about the situation, but they can pick up on the anxiety you are feeling. They need attention and response to their needs from a caring adult. Continue to meet your needs and theirs.

Toddlers: Toddlers have very limited verbal ability. Often, a child’s first memory is around their family’s reaction to a significant event, not the event itself. Memories begin around age three when language abilities start to kick in. As with babies, meet their needs for food, sleep, cuddles and play on a regular schedule. Toddlers and preschoolers thrive on predictability, routines and order. The regularity of life builds their security and makes them feel safe.

Preschoolers: Preschoolers have a good grasp of language and can ask many questions. Their imaginations have kicked into high gear but they have limited understanding of how the world works. Answer all of their questions in simple, matter-of-fact language, but don’t get graphic in your descriptions. They can draw pictures of their understanding of the disaster or their feelings with plain paper and markers. They can dictate a story so you can write it. They might even act out their thoughts and feelings by playing with dolls and toys. Give positive reassurances that they are safe. At this age, children may want to put their anxieties and fears into action and they may not. They could help you collect items of need for those affected by disasters. Gift cards, toiletries, canned food, flashlights, socks and underwear, and bottled water are all very helpful for victims of any disaster. Keep preschoolers away from images and video that may frighten them. They don’t have the understanding yet to put it into context.

School-agers: Young children are black and white thinkers, but are energetic and generous. They want to put their concerns into action. They could set up a refreshment stand and give the donations. They could accompany you to help clean up. Be sure to get them a mask, gloves and rubber boots. Supervise what they pick up by working side by side with them. They could bake and cook with your assistance for those displaced out of their homes, clean-up volunteers, and first responders. They could help you set up the guest room for visitors. Supervise the media they watch. Some children cope easier with processing scary images than other children. Be sure to show them images of the volunteer spirit, and community help, to boost their optimism and faith in fellow humans. Follow all directions from authorities. Your children are watching you obey the rules, and will remember it for the future.

Teenagers: Teens are abstract thinkers and can carry many discussions and conversations about the logistics and effect of disasters. They have probably already seen the images on social media before you have, but welcome the chance to talk about it with someone they love and trust. In times of emergency, people naturally want to stay close to their reality and loved ones. Welcome their closeness. Let them cry and acknowledge their fears. Give them extra hugs as you would do to all your family in times like this. Welcome their efforts to help ando assist you in volunteering. They often come up with great ideas to fundraise and help out, so encourage their volunteerism and enthusiasm.

Support your children and your community and believe in the indomitable spirit of human love, caring and compassion.

Judy Arnall, Certified Family Life Educator, Copyright
Permission granted to reprint


Confidence can often be associated with accomplishment, and is integral to development. Confident ChildrenNo matter what stage of development that your child is in, there are always skills to learn. These skills will not only build up your child’s confidence, but also increase their independence and responsibility.

To teach your child a new skill, you will want to start from where you are, not where you want to be. This may be intimidating and counter-intuitive. Identify what skills your child already has and what they can already do, and decide where to go from there. There may be many areas that you want to focus on, but just narrow in on one at a time. This will ensure that your child is not overwhelmed and increases their chances of success.

You should also consider breaking large tasks down and setting deadlines for when a certain task should be completed. With the development of new skills, you are reaching a goal, and deadlines will help your child stay on track and keep progressing.

It is also very important that you keep track of progress and praise your child when they accomplish even a small goal. This positive affirmation will give them the confidence boost to keep going.

It is important to realize that you are your child’s first teacher. You are teaching them to learn and grow with each new skill. It may take time to learn, but patience is necessary. You want to build their confidence and maintain a love for learning.

ConnectABILITY: Identify Skills to Teach
For the First Timer: 5 Tips on Teaching Your Child A New Skill


The other day, I was lying on the couch in my living room reading. In the apartment above me I heard the characteristic thumping and chatter of children.


“Cool,” I thought. “Kids in the building. Maybe I can play with them.”


Let me qualify that statement by first saying that I am not really a lover of children. I am not really……… maternal. I like my own siblings – I am mildly obsessed with my baby brother, even though he hates me – and sometimes the children of close friends grab my heart strings a little.


But I am not one of those women who looks at a child and gets a throb in the general direction of her womb and goes “OHMYGOSH………..I WANT THAT TINY HUMAN.”


NO Mostly, I think of how terrified I am of night feedings and explosive diapers and the boundless energy that little people seem to have.

Kids in Motion

Thumpers and Squealers


This time of year always induces a big ol’ knot in the pit of my stomach. I’m not sure if it goes back to my own years of schooling when I would become increasingly nervous about the forthcoming first day of school or it’s just the newness of the present situation.

Great waves of anxiety would wash over me the last two weeks of summer, stressing about who might be in my class, would I have any friends this year, will I do well in school, etc, etc, etc. Yes, I’m a worrier. Thankfully, my own kids seem to take the whole thing in stride. I try not to mention the knot in my own stomach so I don’t invoke the same lifelong feelings of angst in these carefree humans. It’s always best for parents not to impresses upon their children their own fears. After all, just because I failed or succeeded at something, doesn’t mean any one of my own children will have the same failures or successes.

Happy School Days!