Free Book Helps Children (and Adults) Cope with Hurricane Season Stress

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Hurricane season is upon us and with that so is an increased risk of suffering from posttraumatic stress (PTS) that only until recently has been addressed in children and adults who have survived a hurricane. To help families cope with a hurricane, health experts at the University of Miami have written a workbook for adults and children to cope effectively with post-disaster stressors following a hurricane.

The workbook is the brainchild and research-based efforts of Dr. Annete M. La Greca and colleagues at Miami University. Dr. La Greca is a professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at the University of Miami. One of the focuses of her research is on children’s reactions to trauma experienced from and following natural disasters. Dr. La Greca’s research team documented the effects of post-traumatic stress in children following Hurricane Andrew, and assessed children’s reactions to Hurricanes Charley, Katrina, and Ike.

The purpose of the research was to evaluate methods toward understanding children’s reactions to natural disasters and how to help children cope in their aftermath.

Her previous research and that of others have shown that living through a natural disaster is a traumatic experience for everyone—especially children. One of their findings is that children who directly experience a devastating hurricane can show signs of posttraumatic stress up to two years after the event.

Symptoms of stress that children may experience following a hurricane can range from reoccurring dreams about the hurricane, anxiety, distraction, isolation and alienation, feeling more sad or fearful than usual, and difficulty with sleeping. In addition, the difficulties faced by a child can be amplified if the hurricane leads to disruption of the family such as having to move, loss of a pet, and parent separation or divorce.

"Children may have to move or change schools. Their neighborhood may not be safe for outdoor play and they may not be able to spend time with their friends. Children need help coping with these and other post-disaster stressors," states Dr. La Greca.

As such, Dr. La Greca has written a workbook to help families during the first year after a natural disaster. The workbook is titled “AFTER THE STORM: A Guide to Help Children Cope with the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane” and is available free online.

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The workbook helps parents address typical questions before and following a hurricane such as: “What should I tell my child?” “How can I tell if these events are bothering my child?” “What can I do to help my child cope with this disaster?”

Within the easily readable 44 pages, 15 hurricane-related topics are covered in this book with both adult and child content clearly defined--some of which include joint activities that an adult and child can do together. Divided into 5 sections for easy topic selection, the table of contents lists the following sections:

I. Introductory Section: Understanding what a hurricane is and what happens
II. Understanding Your Child’s Responses To The Hurricane
III. Helpful Coping Strategies For Most Children
IV. Helpful Coping Strategies For Specific Situations
V. Additional Information and Resources

Packed with useful information, this workbook serves to alleviate stress by educating through entertaining exercises what hurricanes are and how they work. It also serves to guide parents on how to determine whether their child is experiencing stress, how much stress and what to do about it with suggested activities and involvement not only at home, but with the community as well following a hurricane. The suggested coping methods are applicable as well to coping with stress experienced from other types of natural disasters and significant events that can affect how a child views the world and their life.

Follow this link for a free online downloadable copy of the workbook and other similar books made available through 7-Dippity.com.

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

References:

“AFTER THE STORM: A Guide to Help Children Cope with the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane”

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): Parent Guidelines for Helping Children after a Hurricane

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