Parents: Ways to help your Child(ren)After a wildfire, most families will recover over time, particularly with the support of family, friends, and organizations. The length of recovery depends, in part, on if they had to evacuate and how much time they had to respond, and the extent of the damage and loss in the community. Some families will be able to return to their normal routines rather quickly, while others will have to contend with loss and damage to their home and possessions, finding new housing, and financial hardship. Some families live in areas where they will have additional risks of floods or mudslides during the rainy season, which will create additional anxiety and worry.
Children will react differently to wildfires depending on their age, developmental level, and prior experiences. Children may be very concerned about safety, and worry that another wildfire may occur. They may also get reminded when they see any type of fire (campfires, barbeques, fire in a fireplace), smell smoke or see ash, experience windy days or warm dry weather, or watch holiday fireworks. Children may also exhibit changes in their behavior, such as clinging to parents or caregivers, experiencing more headaches and stomachaches, performing poorly at school, or withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy.
Children’s functioning and recovery will be influenced by how their parents and caregivers cope after the wildfire and the behaviors they model. Children often turn to adults for information, comfort, and help. Parents and caregivers should:
Here are more resources and information for you to support and respond to your child(ren):
Parent Guideline for helping children impacted by wildfires: Offers parents guidance on helping their children after an arson or fire. This fact sheet describes common reactions children may have after an arson or fire, what to do to help, and self-care tips for parents.
- Model being calm and hopeful after the wildfire.
- Provide accurate information and answer questions honestly and at an appropriate developmental level.
- Be patient when responding to changes in behavior.
- Provide reassurance, a daily routine, and structure.
- Pay attention to their own wellbeing and coping.
Wildfires: Tips for parents on media coverage: Offers parents information about media coverage after a wildfire. This tip sheet provides guidance on understanding media exposure, what parents can do to help, and when your family is a part of the story.
Apple’s Help Kids Cope App: information on how to support kids through trauma, divided by developmental age: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/help-kids-cope/id1069028637
Age related reactions to Traumatic events: Describes how young children, school-age children, and adolescents react to traumatic events and offers suggestions on how parents and caregivers can help and support them.
Children’s ebook: “Trinka and Sam: The Big Fire”
Disaster Distress Hotline = 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUs to 66746
Adults: This story was designed for children who have experienced serious large-scale fires. Please read it by yourself first and decide whether this is a good story to read with your child. If your child has been through a fire with minimal damage to homes and communities, you may decide that this story presents details and images that may not be helpful for your child to hear and see. Even if you choose not to read the story to your child, the story and the parents’ guide, at the end of the book, may help you better understand your child’s reactions to the fire. If you decide to read the story with your child, you may want to encourage your child to color in some of the pictures.
Adultos: Este cuento fue diseñado para niños que han vivido la experiencia de un fuego serio. Por favor léalo usted primero y decida si es un cuento apropiado para su niño. Si su niño ha pasado por un fuego con un impacto minimo en sus casas y comunidad, usted puede considerar si hay detalles del cuento que su niño no necesitaría escuchar. Aunque usted decida no leer el cuento a su niño, esta historia, y la guía para padres que se encuentra al final, pueden ayudarle a entender de mejor forma las reacciones que su niño puede tener frente a un fuego. Si usted decide leer la historia con su niño, usted puede animarlo a colorear algunos de los dibujos en el cuento.
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural and human-caused disasters.
Local Resource for Parents and Children
After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal: Offers tips to parents on how to help young children, toddlers, and preschoolers heal after a traumatic event.
Our online library can give you help right now. We have organized WinterSpring’s Library Menu by categories to help you find the links and resources that best match your loss.
Parent Tips for Helping Adolescents: This handout provides parents with common reactions after a disaster, ways to respond to those reactions, and examples of things you can say to your adolescent.
Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children after Disasters: This handout provides parents with common reactions after a disaster, ways to respond to those reactions, and examples of things you can say to your school-age child.
Parent Tips for Helping Pre-School Age Children after Disasters: This handout provides parents with common reactions after a disaster, ways to respond to those reactions, and examples of things you can say to your preschool-age child.
Simple Activities for Children and Adolescence with No Screen Time: Offers activity ideas to parents and caregivers whose families are sheltering in place, social distancing, and homeschooling due to school closures.
Flyer from APP