Lots of people think that if they talk to children about the potential threat of a disaster then they will scare or traumatise them. In fact, talking to them openly and honestly, and letting them know that you are prepared and have a plan, helps them to feel safer and more secure. This will also help them to deal with the impact of a disaster if it does happen.
How to talk about disaster preparedness
Tell students that disasters can happen and being prepared will help everyone keep safe.
It’s important for educators to stay calm and speak with confidence when discussing the school emergency plan, as this will help to reduce your students’ worries.
Allow students to ask any questions or make comments they may have about disaster preparedness. This will help you to understand what needs clarification and to dispel any misconceptions they may have.
Don’t catastrophise or over-dramatise. Assure children that with preparedness, things will be less scary and a lot safer.
Children may want to go over the ideas more than once. Follow their lead, let them speak about it or ask more questions and check in if they are worried about something happening soon. If they are worried, let them know this is normal. Show acceptance of their feelings but let them know that you are not worried about anything happening yourself and your planning will help if it does.
Involve students in disaster preparedness
There are benefits with involving students in disaster preparedness.
- feel more able to deal with the threat, and feel safe and secure in knowing that you have a plan
- be informed, educated and prepared no matter whether they are at home or at school
- know that even if it is affected by a disaster, the class will use its resources to work together.
You may be lucky and never be affected by a disaster; however, if you are affected and you are prepared, the physical and psychological outcomes for you and your students are likely to be much more positive.
Helping students recover after trauma: Classroom activities
Trauma sensitive behaviour management
For more information
For more information about emergency preparedness: https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/emergencies/resources-about-disasters/resources-for-parents-and-teachers