Talking to Children and Families About Disasters

Twenty tornadoes are now confirmed to have touched down in Ohio on the evening and overnight hours of May 27 and 28, 2019. Natural disasters, such as this outbreak, and other crises, like violence in their community, can leave children with questions or fears. According to the CDC, mental stress from a disaster can be harder on children because they understand less about the situation, feel less able to control events, and have less experience coping with difficult situations.

Parents may also experience stress as they are unsure how best to address a child’s concerns. As a trusted resource for your patients and community, you can play a role in spreading awareness on how to discuss disasters with children and prepare for possible future emergencies. Some best practices you may recommend to caregivers include:

  • Allowing children to ask questions and express feelings or concerns
  • Limiting exposure to mass media coverage of the disaster and its aftermath
  • Keeping children with a trusted adult who can help them feel safe and calm
  • Encouraging children to take action directly related to the disaster, such as making a family plan for the future or collecting donations for families in need

The Ohio AAP has compiled resources from sources like the National AAP, CDC, and for members to assist in preparing for these conversations. Visit to view resources and learn more.

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This page is for practice managers and office employees to discuss issues they’re experiencing in their practices. Many problems that we hear about can help other practices, so we invite you to share best practices by posting issues and by responding to issues other practices are experiencing. This page is monitored by the Ohio AAP. Advice and opinions expressed on these discussion boards are the views of the poster and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ohio AAP. If you have any issues, questions, or feedback, please contact Melanie Farkas.