School has been cancelled. The kids are home. And depending on how hard Hurricane Irma hits the metro-area, you may or may not have power (At least 170,000 residents in South Georgia lost power as early Monday morning.)
It may be tempting to keep the television tuned 24/7 to storm updates, but experts say that may not be in the best interest of your kids. Children may be feeling anxiety about the storm because they don’t know what to expect and the images on television could create even more anxiety.
Keep any conversations about the storm to age appropriate terms and explanations. If you need help talking to young children, Sesame Street featured a video several years ago to help facilitate conversations about hurricanes with kids ages 2 -6:
Encourage children to talk about their feelings and allow them to help with developing a family emergency plan. They can even put together their own Hurricane kit in a backpack.
During the storm, think of activities that will help keep them distracted while also reducing any anxiety.
Some suggestions from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Department of Psychiatry include art/coloring, board games, card games, electronics or favorite movies (if power is available), reading favorite books and playing with stuffed animals for emotional security.
For more active games, consider favorites like Red Light/Green Light, Hide-n-go-seek, Simon Says or Freeze Tag. Build Forts, use flashlights to make shadow puppets, or play guessing games like charades and pictionary.
You can also spend time playing dress up, setting up an obstacle course, singing or having a dance party, and enjoying a carpet picnic or pitching at tent, suggest experts at What to Expect.
Talking, playing and participating in family activities will help kids understand that they are safe, according to hurricane tips from Save the Children.
How you deal with the storm will serve as a model for your child, so try to remain calm and offer them reassurance.