Many of us can take it our stride, we've seen worse however there are a large amount of small children who have just experienced their first earthquake, or the first one they remember. There are also many families who are newer to Canterbury and for whom that would have been their first experience of an earthquake.
After yesterday’s quake, we can expect that the Worry Bug will be visiting a lot of households today and especially tonight. He will be getting tricky with families, getting them feeling upset, scared and nervous. He might suggest that the kids stay home from school, that they don’t do their normal activities, that they stay up all night worrying.
The kinds of thoughts he will be putting in people’s heads are
What if there’s another quake?!!
What if the house falls down?
What if I’m not with my children/parents when it happens and I am scared?
It’s really important to start squishing these ideas before they get a hold, and for many of us that wont be easy.
As a parent, you are an expert on your child, so you will know what works for them. Here’s some more ideas.
Get your child to name their fear, and to discuss it logically.
For example, “What if there’s another quake?” Try to pin down what is the actual fear here; often children have a vague sense of disaster, getting them to actually name what the fear is means that you can then move on with dealing with it.
If your child really wants to talk about the quakes all the time, schedule a specific limited time for this.
Limit the media reports they're exposed to
Keep your adult worries away
Provide a calm and loving response; from children. If you are particularly upset, don’t talk about it with your children, get support from other adults you trust.
Story it up
For example “Ruaumoko just rolled over as he settles back to sleep” or “it’s just the earth settling back into it’s bed, still trying to get comfortable.”
Let them talk about it,but limit it.
Don’t let it take over, use distraction and play to get their minds off it.
Re-read “Maia and the Worry Bug” , the book dealing with earthquake anxiety provided free to all year 1-4’s in Canterbury. Remind teachers about “Wishes and Worries” for use in the classroom.
Watch the movie “Everything is going to be alright”
Watch it as a family together and talk about your responses to it. https://youtu.be/HDFDlqPbSzk
Look for opportunities to have fun
Over the next few days, do things that you and your children enjoy, purposefully.
Live mindfully, be aware of the moment you are in right now.
Be aware that most of these symptoms in most children will be temporary, they should abate with time and thoughtful management. If they don’t, get some help sooner rather than later.
Don’t discuss earthquakes at night. If children insist on it, say that you will discuss it at a specific time tomorrow, but not tonight. If you want to talk about safety aspects, do this prior to bedtime and give children only the responsibility that they can manage for their age.
Turn off tv, devices, screens an hour before bed
Do a wind-down activity, reading together, talking quietly about calm things, before bed
Whilst lying quietly, spend some time thinking of the things that you are grateful for that have happened today.
Use a guided meditation from the internet or on a tape/cd.
Use relaxation techniques such as squeezing and relaxing each muscle in turn.