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News from Baby Medical Q&A, Issue #054
March 01, 2011

There has been a terrible earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the city I live in.

Thankfully all my family are safe and well.

For any of you who have been affected by the earthquake, who have lost a loved one or your home or job, know that our thoughts and prayers are with you in this sad time.

This month, the ezine has a slightly different format in view of the February 22 earthquake.

I will share with you some very helpful advice on helping your children deal with disasters.

For a very useful information leaflet on dealing with your children after disasters, click here

This advice can be used for any stressful situations that you find yourself in. The advice came from psychologist, Nigel Latta.

There are 5 steps to helping your child cope with tragedy:

  • Safety. Make sure your family is safe
  • Be Calm. Even if you don't feel it, put a calm face on for the children. Make sure that the people around your children remain calm. It is very distressing for children to see their protectors "lose it"
  • Stay Connected - keep in touch with your community. Let children meet up with their friends even if schools are closed. Make them aware that others are looking out for them or sending them good wishes. Let them speak to family overseas or out of town. Let them know they are not alone in all of this chaos
  • Promote self-efficacy which means give your child a feeling of control. He or she can't control the aftershocks but they can control what they do. So involve them in tidying up, in picking up chairs, in putting their room back in shape
  • Give Hope. This is so important. Always speak with hope of what the future holds.

Speak to your child about what is happening using words and terms they will understand.

Today, I was with my 6 year old nephew who was distressed as they have lost their home. I gave him a hug and told them I understood and it wasn't fair. I then explained that the earth had built up a lot of pressure and had let it go like one big fart that had caused the earthquake. It was amazing to see his tears disappear to a big grin as he heard the earthquake explained in this way.

If you and your family are suffering, know that there are professionals who can help, so always ask for help. In Christchurch, phone the Red Cross.

Hopefully, most of you will never have to suffer as the residents of Christchurch have (having had 2 major earthquakes in 5 months), but if you are involved in a disaster, I hope this advice will help you.

Kia kaha (stay strong)

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