Newswise — With the onslaught of “Frankenstorm” Sandy, parents and teachers are once again faced with the challenge of discussing an overwhelming natural disaster with children. According to David Fassler, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, these conversations, while difficult, are also important. A child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Burlington, Vt., Fassler offers the following suggestions for adults navigating these conversations:
1. Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions. At the same time, it’s best not to force children to talk about things unless and until they’re ready.
2. Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know, or eventually find out, if you’re “making things up”. It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
3. Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child’s age, language, and developmental level.