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Managing Emotions Following a Natural Disaster

As a community we have all experienced the significant weather event over the past weekend, and for some this has become a natural disaster.

The experience of and response to a natural disaster will affect people in different ways. Each member of a family may react very differently to the same situation. Young children can easily become distressed to what is happening in their immediate environment, and this may make a baby or young person feel unsafe and unsettled and will depend on their parents and caregivers to feel safe and secure again. This is why it is so important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your child or children.

Some common physical and emotional reactions following a disaster for parents include:

· Feeling numb

· Tearful, sad or guilty

· Anxious or irritable

· Unable to plan ahead

· Troubling memories

· "Reliving" the event

Some common physical and emotional reactions following a disaster for children include:

· Being clingy, whiney or unsettled

· Tearful, especially when parents are not close by

· Less responsive

· Eating more or less than usual

· Having difficulty sleeping

· Hard to settle and soothe

· Easily frustrated and having more tantrums

· Aggressive

· Acting out scary events

· Nightmares

· Loss of previous skills or “going backwards” e.g. toileting, walking or talking.

If you or a loved one continues to struggle emotionally following the disaster, it may be necessary to seek professional help.

If you are interested in discussing any of the points further or would like to hear about a particular topic, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to and we will answer any questions you may have.

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