Chennai is under water. Literally. The past few days images of tragedy, rescue efforts, and countless cried for help have been broadcast out of Chennai. Social media is inundated with people trying to get in touch with their loved ones and with those trying to send help to Chennai. It is not just us that are privy to the news and images, our children are too.
Over breakfast today my sevenÂ year old shows me a picture of an infant Â being carried by his parents as they wade through waist deep flood watersÂ in Chennai and asks me “Mama why is there so much water around and where are they taking the baby?” That was when I realised there was no use hiding things from our children anymore. When there is a tragedy they need to understand the facts from us, their parents, before they hear it from someplace else.
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Here are 5 waysÂ to talk to your child about theÂ flood situation in Chennai
1. Talk to them depending on how old they are: Children at different ages process the same information and images differently. So depending on how old they are answer their questions cautiously. Older children who can empathise by want to know more about how a family is living and surviving and that is alright to answer. But of a preschooler wants to know why the rain she loves to play in is harming a family, then you need to answer that without creating a lifelong fear of rain.Â
2. Talk to them about natural tragedies and why they occur: Address theÂ following topics:
–What are floods and why do they occur:Â You could even introduce the subject of climate change but in an easy and simple manner. Rains, what can be done in the rains, how do we stay safe. Depending on how old they are explain the consequences.
– What happens during floods:Â If you do spend time watching the news with your child then maybe explain what the consequences are. Stick to facts about how long it has rained. Do not look alarmed or you child will pick up nervous energy from you. Tell them how children are forced to stay home because schools are closed. Explain the situation to them using their daily life as an example.
– What should you do when there are floods in your city?Â Discuss how people in Chennai are staying safe. Paint a picture of hope and positives that still come out of tragedy. Teach them about evacuation or how people are moving to a higher floor. Explain how children in Chennai are playing indoorsÂ because of being unable to play outdoor games.
– How do we save people who are affected by floodÂ ?Â Show them images of helicopters distributing food and planes airlifting people to safety. Maybe you can talk about just how brave the men and women are who reach out to offer help. Ask them how they would like to help. Maybe they want to donate some of their things to help those in need. Ask them what they would be willing to part with for people in Chennai. Follow through and find a place you can donate things to.
3. A good time to teach kids their responsibility towards the environment:Â How can kids help stop these tragedies. Teach them about how they stop a similar situation from taking place in their city. Micro size the entire situation and show them how planting a tree, creating a green cover can actually prevent a mini flood from taking place.
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