Monday, April 26, 2010

Coping In The Aftermath Of The Angriest Storms...

Most of our readers know the inspiration behind The Angry Thunderstorm. The book was written to help children redirect negative thoughts about thunderstorms by providing honest, understandable, and encouraging reasons for a storm's behavior. But, what happens when a child has experienced the angriest of storms like those that hit Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama?

As an author of a book about thunderstorms, I am often asked what response I would provide to a child who has experienced injury or loss in the wake of a storm? This is a valid question... especially since my goal has always been to help children think positively about storms. A frightened, confused and insecure child who has just lived through such a horrific event is not likely to find much positive about the experience to cling to.

Before I answer this question, I want to make it clear that I am not an expert in child development, psychology or meteorology. The only credentials I have on this subject are my own personal and parental experiences and views as an individual who just happened to write a story about an angry storm and a frightened child. While The Angry Thunderstorm helps children to look for the positive things a storm does for Mother Nature, no thunderstorm is benign. According to the Disaster Center, despite the size, all thunderstorms have the potential to produce lightning, hail, flooding and other dangers. More than anything, as an author, my hope is that The Angry Thunderstorm helps children better manage their fears while respecting the nature of a storm.

Children who have witnessed a catastrophic storm event will likely have a long road of healing and recovery ahead that a children's book will not remedy. My best response would be to listen to these children and encourage them to share their experience; acknowledge their fears and concerns; and, reassure them that their feelings are normal. I would try to answer questions honestly in a way that is easy to understand.

I believe that children look to the adults in their lives for reassurance; so, a caregiver's response to the event will significantly impact the child's response. How a caregiver is coping may affect their ability to respond to a child's needs. I would encourage looking to a professional for guidance if I felt that I was not able to provide that comfort or reassurance.

To the children (and adults) who have weathered these terrible storms and are now left to remember loved ones and rebuild lives, please know that my heart and my tears are with you. You will remain in my prayers, my thoughts and my hopes that God will grant the strength you need to move forward.

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