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Taking Care of Your Family



mother holding childDisasters and other traumatic stressful events may disrupt the normal flow of life. Relationship problems and difficulties with children are not uncommon, but we can keep our family strong and learn to cope as a team by taking a few simple actions:

What You Can Do:
  • Spend time with your family and try to keep routines, such as family meals.
  • Make time to talk to your family and listen to what they have to say about their experiences.
  • You family’s reaction to the event may be different from yours. Be tolerant.
  • Experiencing stressful and traumatic events can affect people’s needs for company. For example, your children may want to be with you constantly, while your partner might require more time alone.

Taking Care of Your Children
Children do not see and understand the world around them in the same way that adults do. Experiencing stressful and traumatic events can make them anxious, scared or confused, and they may require special attention and reassurance. They look to adults to explain what is happening and for guidance on what to do.
What You Can Do:
  • Be aware of children’s reaction to stressful and traumatic events, so you can recognize them for what they are. Experiencing a stressful event can affect the way your children feel, think and behave and they may show a variety of reactions. Their reactions may vary depending on their age and understanding of what happened.
  • Stay calm, as your reactions affect your children. If they see you extremely worried, it can make them feel afraid and insecure.
  • Talk to your children about what happened, answer their questions in a way that they can understand and let them express their feelings.
  • Reassure your children about their safety and that they are in no way responsible for what happened.
  • Limit their exposure to disturbing news and images by limiting the amount of television they watch.

Elderly Family Members
Traumatic and stressful events can be even more distressing for the elderly because of weakened health, worries about the future, housing and financial security.
What You Can Do:
  • Be patient if they seem confused or disoriented, and provide further explanation and reassurance if needed.
  • Make sure that they are safe and that basic personal and medical needs are addressed.
  • Encourage social interaction and activity.
  • Promote hope for the future by including them in the process of rebuilding your lives.

Last Updated: January 16, 2013