Presentation on theme: "Children’s reactions following a disaster. A disaster, either concerning the family or the wider community, may cause fear, uncertainty and disruption."— Presentation transcript:
A disaster, either concerning the family or the wider community, may cause fear, uncertainty and disruption to children. The latter may experience a variety of emotional reactions after a disaster and it is important to understand that these reactions are, to some extent, natural.
The reaction of a child depends on several factors, including: The age of a child affects the way it reacts to a catastrophic event. A six year old may refuse to go to school, a teenager may be irritable, fight with his parents, neglect his homework. The extent of the damage experienced. The reaction of parents and other adults. Parents who react with panic affect their children, which react accordingly. Previous traumatic experiences of the child. The disruption of the family, a traumatic divorce of his parents or a recent bereavement makes the child more vulnerable to new traumas. Children’s Psychological problems that may pre-exist, are risk factors for the occurrence of severe psychological effects after a catastrophic event.
Very young children : Cannot verbally describe their feelings and trauma or stress is evident in their play and drawing. They tend to reenact scenes that they have experienced, like houses shaking or being shattered, things falling down, people being injured, sirens and other relevant experiences. The same follows with drawing. Children, who have experienced an earthquake and are affected emotionally, draw related issues.
Children of school age : Some children from 6 to 12 years old regress and exhibit behaviors that can be found at younger ages, they loose skills they had attained, for example May experience bedwetting. May experience trouble sleeping and eating, i.e. difficulty sleeping alone, nightmares, and loss of appetite. May present oppositional behavior towards their parents and, May speak constantly and in detail about the catastrophic event. Largely, these reactions are normal, and the repetitive and monotonous, monothematic play and drawing with similar characteristics, are psychological mechanisms that help children face their fears.
Teenagers show reactions similar to those of an adult: persistent, disturbing and intrusive recollections of the event, feeling of emotional numbness, withdrawal from occupations that were of interest before, can entangle with groups with antisocial behavior and try smoking, drinking or using illegal substances, may present behaviors that put them at risk, such as dangerous driving with or without a license. may often complain of physical symptoms and their performance at school declines.
However, the most serious disorder that children may experience after a disaster, like a strong earthquake, are related with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Apart from PTSD, often children display symptoms of depression. Other secondary effects are: anxiety disorders, separation anxiety, school avoidance, psychosomatic problems and bedwetting. The fears that associate with the earthquake and phobic avoidance are pervasive in children and cause serious dysfunction.