One of the most destructive natural disasters in our life time has hit our country. For your child this is undoubtedly the most destructive disaster in his lifetime. With the news running the story nonstop since August 25th, it’s no doubt your child has seen at least a portion of it. Most of the time I encourage parents to limit the amount of news their child sees, and to always be ready to answer questions your child may have. Hurricane Harvey is different in that it displays several life lessons that I can’t help but think every child would benefit from seeing in action. Keep reading below for the top four great lessons your child can learn from Hurricane Harvey.
Life is sometimes out of our control.
For as much emphasis as you put on your child to control himself (and rightfully so) it’s an equally important lesson for your child to learn that there are some things out of his control. Hurricane Harvey is the epitome of an uncontrollable event. If it were to hit your house, the only thing you and your child could do is survive it–you can’t keep it from happening. Learning this lesson early helps cultivate the idea of coping—what your child can do to feel better after something bad has happened to him.
It’s important to listen to people in charge.
From evacuation orders to finding shelter, the news has shown over and over that the people affected by Hurricane Harvey have to listen to people in charge. Your child is learning that listening to people helps keep him safe. Now as people are in recovery mode, they are also demonstrating the important skills of patience and asking for help. Relating this to your child’s life, the two of you can discuss the importance of listening to teachers, police officers, and yes, even you!
People respond differently to the same situation.
The emotions displayed on TV in the past two weeks are compelling testaments to what the human psyche goes through when faced with a daunting situation. Sadness, despair, frustration, and relief have all been splashed across the prime time media for the world and your child to see. Why does this matter to your child? It’s important for your child to learn that people respond differently when faced with the same situation. It helps develop empathy, as well as understanding. Your child learns to think: “The way I feel may not be the same way you feel. And that’s ok.”
People can work together to solve a problem.
Your child has undoubtedly picked up on the growing tension and division that this country has experienced. Hurricane Harvey has provided an opportunity for the people affected by it to show the world and your child that people do come together to help each other out. The ultimate lesson in any disaster is “we are going to get through this.” This was demonstrated by the influx of out of state help (Cajun Navy, for example), neighbors abandoning their homes to help out others, and agencies like the Red Cross coordinating material and financial donations. Ultimately, your child learns that when someone needs help, there are many different ways to be of service.
Bottom line: Even a crisis can teach your child important life lessons. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, have discussions with your child about what he sees, thinks, and feels. These discussions can be a golden opportunity to incorporate these lessons in your child’s life. Who knows? Maybe someday he will remember the lessons these conversations cultivated and use them to help himself or others.
Please comment below: What lessons have you learned from Hurricane Harvey? What have you and your child talked about? What do you want your child to take away from a disaster like this?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health.