Parents: It takes time for kids to adjust after earthquake trauma

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Dealing with feelings after a traumatic event such as yesterday’s earthquake can be quite scary.

A Providence behavioral health professional teaches parents how they can help their kids deal with their emotions after a scary situation.

”It’s really normal for children to have increased anxiety, irritability, challenges with leaving their parents,” says Renee Rafferty, director of behavioral health for Providence Alaska.

The entire community felt the weight of a natural disaster and children are especially vulnerable.

“When we have a traumatic event like an earthquake our body goes in to fight-or-flight response and we are flooded with lots of chemicals adrenaline, cortisol, and afterward that can be exhausting, leaving children tired and worried for future safety (and) also not able to function in the same way they have been able to in the past,” says Rafferty.

Fortunately, there are things parents can do to make their child feel better, and more importantly safer, after feeling out of control during the quake.

Rafferty says, “If you see your child having an increased response or any kind of intense feeling anger or stress, you don’t want to try to talk them out of it. You actually want to meet them where they are and validate that the feeling is normal.”

She also wants to inform parents that it will take time for kids to start to feel normal. And if the child has existing mental health conditions prior to the earthquake, this could increase their symptoms. If a parent feels their child is not coping well after the quake, they should seek help from a primary care physician or a mental health professional.

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