The events of the last few weeks have left us feeling shaken and vulnerable. Many of our school families were horribly impacted by the flooding. We have family, friends, coworkers, and classmates who are trying to recover from devastating losses. All of us, including our children, are trying to find a sense of security amidst such destruction and upheaval.
Oma’s Safety Plan
In between the first and second atmospheric river events of the last few weeks my five-year-old and I were driving in the car while it was raining when he asked,
“When it floods again, will Oma drown?”
I was quick to reassure him that she was safe, but I could tell he wasn’t convinced. He knew we couldn’t go visit her in Greendale because of the flooding. We quickly asked Siri to call my mom so we could check in.
Once he heard her voice, he immediately asked, “Oma, are you going to drown?”
It took some explaining on my part to fill in the details but like all good Omas, she knew what was going on.
“Of course not!” She exclaimed. “There is no flood at Oma’s house. Remember, there are even people staying at Oma’s house because it’s safe here.”
“Yes, Oma, but what if the flood comes to your house?” he asked.
“Well then,” said Oma confidently, “I am a good swimmer, and I will put on my nice blue swimsuit and swim to your house. Is that okay?”
“That sounds good, Oma. You can stay with us.”
Thankfully this time, for my dear five-year-old boy, it was all he needed to hear to feel like it was going to be okay. He needed to know that in the middle of all kinds of “what-ifs,” someone he loved and trusted had a plan and that it would be alright.
As the people of Abbotsford, and in particular our farming community, begin to pick up the pieces, may you walk in faith and experience peace as you trust God to love you and care for you through the “what-ifs” of this season.
Supporting Our Students
I am thankful for the members of the ACS Social Emotional Spiritual (SES) team who have worked countless extra hours providing teachers with resources to support students and developed the following information for you as you help your children process the events of the last few weeks.
Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Tips for Parents/Guardians
It is common for elementary age children to exhibit some of the following behaviours even if your family may not be directly impacted by the flooding:
- Sleep problems
- Irrational fears
- Separation anxiety
- Anger outbursts
- Lack of focus
Here are some ways that you can help your child navigate feelings after a natural disaster.
- Remain calm and reassuring — Children take cues from adults. Acknowledge reality of flood impact yet stress the efforts to clean up and community coming together to help rebuild.
- Validate and Normalize Feelings — Allow space to talk about feelings and concerns. Listen, empathize, and affirm initial feelings are normal.
- Support Resiliency — Help your child recognize healthy coping skills like prayer, positive self-talk, deep breathing, exercise. Also highlight hope in recovery and community support.
- Stay Connected — Seek connection with family, church, and friends.
- Take Care of Your Own Needs — Talk to other adults. Take care of your physical and mental health to help your child cope.
- Seek Help for Prolonged Signs of Distress — Consider getting professional support for your child if stress reactions continue or worsen after a week or more. ACS has a referral process in place that is initiated by contacting your child’s teacher.