Talking to Young Children About Earthquakes

I just finished assembling my son’s earthquake kit for kindergarten.  We’ve done a lot of earthquake/emergency planning at home, so this didn’t seem like a big deal.  But then I had to write him a note to include in his kit.  That’s when the reality of being separated from my children during a natural disaster really hit me.

The school sits on top of the Hayward fault – the likely cause of my writer’s block. We’ve all heard the warnings. The last five significant earthquakes on the Hayward fault have been about 140 years apart. And the last major one was…140 years ago. Knowing this, and the fact there’s a pretty good chance my son could be at school if there is a big earthquake, what’s the best way to reassure him?

I turned to the Red Cross’s Bay Area chapter and We Care Children’s Services, a local children’s mental health organization, for resources and advice.

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It’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

One in every five children and adolescents has an identifiable mental health need. Yet many of them will never get help.

Today is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health to their overall health and development. The theme of this year’s campaign is how children can demonstrate resilience and overcome the effects of trauma.

A growing body of research has proven that intense adverse experiences such as witnessing domestic violence, severe maternal depression, or physical abuse or neglect can cause traumatic stress in children. This stress – often referred to as “toxic stress” – can interfere with how children learn and affect how a child’s brain develops.  This is particularly alarming given that nearly half of all substantiated child abuse and neglect cases in Contra Costa County involve children up to age five. Continue reading