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How to Talk to Kids about Disasters
Parenting Expert Julia Cook Offers Tips for Tough Conversations
By: Julia Cook
The Ant Hill Disaster, by Julia Cook, is a helpful way to discuss tragedies like Hurricane Harvey with children. Cook also offers these tips for parents and educators:
1. Remain calm and reassuring. Create an atmosphere where children are comfortable talking and asking questions.
2. Always answer a child's questions truthfully with simple answers. You don't need to go into more detail than necessary, but lying to your children or making up facts will ultimately confuse them. Eventually, when they find out the truth about what happened, they may struggle with trusting you in the future.
3. You may be asked to repeat your answers several times. Be consistent in your reply, and realize that your repetitive answers are reassuring your child's "need to know" and building upon their sense of security.
4. Children often feel out of control when disasters occur. Keeping with a familiar routine is very important when trying to reestablish the security of feeling in control.
5. If your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, it's ok to say, "I don't know."
6. Acknowledge and normalize your child's thoughts, feelings and reactions. Help children understand why they feel this way."
After the Ant Hill School is destroyed, a little boy ant is afraid to go back to school. His mom caringly explains to him that sometimes things happen in life over which we have no control, but we have to find a way to keep living and growing. To do that,
"We breathe in and breathe out, and hold onto each other. We shed a lot of tears, and we love one another. We all come together as a strong team of ONE, and then we rebuild, and get things done!" – The Ant Hill Disaster by Julia Cook
The Ant Hill Disaster thoughtfully addresses fears associated with both natural and human-caused disasters. It models effective parenting and teaching responses. Julia Cook partnered with Michele Gay, founder of Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative to give parents and educators a way to explain the unexplainable. A portion of the proceeds benefit Safe and Sound's programs to empower safer schools.
This book can help assure children that through love, empathetic understanding, preparation, and effective communication, they can stand strong, even in the midst of uncontrollable events.
More about Julia Cook:
With over 2 million books sold in various languages and on several continents, Parenting Expert Julia Cook's successful strategy is "Read a Book, Teach a Child a Life Lesson." Her books have won multiple accolades, including several AEP (American Educational Publishers) Distinguished Achievement Awards, Mom's Choice Awards and National Parenting Seals of Approval. Her gift is the ability to effectively translate important adult, behavioral and mental health information into kid language.
In 11 years, Julia Cook has transformed from a middle school teacher and elementary school counselor into an internationally renowned children's author and parenting expert. It is rare to find an elementary school in our country today that does not use her books to teach social skills and character development. With 80+ titles, Julia's creative books are research based and model positive parenting strategies, positive teaching strategies, and hands on problem-solving strategies for kids. Julia's books have been endorsed by the Alaska Department of Education, EAGALA, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Chidhelp, Darkness to Light, USA Volleyball, the CDC and the list goes on. Julia's books have also been featured in Parents magazine, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Fatherly.com and CNN's Headline News. For more information, go to www.juliacookonline.com
Cat Mosley, publicist