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Tips for helping children who are anxious:

Save the Children has issued tips for supporting children during traumatic times - such as the Tasmanian bushfires.
By Motherpedia
Date: January 06 2013
Tags: children, stress,
Editor Rating:
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In the wake of the devastating bushfires in Tasmania, Save the Children Australia has released a list of tipsfor parents to support children who might be suffering anxiety. 

“The impact of a disaster can be incredibly traumatic for some children. It is imperative that parents and teachers are wellequipped to identify key signs of when children are under stress to best support them, said the Head of Humanitarian Programmes, Stephen McDonald.

Common signs that children are under stress include sleeping and eating problems, defiance, separationanxiety, aggression and fighting, extreme mood shifts, risk-taking behaviours, complaining of physicalproblems, and withdrawing from friends and family.

Save the Children's top tips for supporting children during traumatic times such as the Tasmanian bushfires include:

Care and Protection

  • Avoid separating young children from their primary caregivers for long periods.
  • Minimise exposure to scary images and adult conversation about the devastation of the disaster.

Normal Routine and reassurance

  • Maintain regular routines and rituals. Structure and routine help children feel secure.
  • Help children see the good things in the world around them.
  • Be patient with extra reminders as children may be more distracted.

Responding to feelings and fears

  • Take time to listen to their concerns. Listen and answer children’s questions as simply and honestly asyou can.
  • Allow children to be sad and cry; these are normal expressions of emotion.
  • School-age children may return to behaviour from early childhood, like thumb sucking or bedwetting. Bepatient and supportive and try not to shame the child, as they are likely to be embarrassed.

Establish safety and control

  • Repeatedly reassure children of their safety.

Promote good behaviour and positive coping

  • Give praise and encouragement for good behaviour.
  • Encourage good health; including eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Take time for fun! Help children lessen boredom through play and games, especially games you can dotogether.

During times of emergency in Australia, Save the Children establishes “Child Friendly Spaces” – a kind ofdrop-in play centre for children whose parents and family are busy addressing immediate concerns suchas housing, financial and medical needs.

For further information, contact Save the Children on 1800 76 00 11.

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