Experiencing an earthquake or other natural disaster can be a frightening and traumatic experience for anyone, especially for children, who know even less about how to cope with trauma than adults do. However, the more we know about something and prepare for it, the less traumatic it can be. The State of Utah has created a website that provides in-depth information about earthquakes. Read this link to learn more about earthquakes in Utah - what they are, how to prepare for them, and what to do during and after an earthquake. Use the following resources for help addressing this concern in your family.
- Parent tips for talking with children and adolescents about earthquakes and natural disasters
- Read this FEMA link to gain more information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about how children of different ages respond to natural disasters, and how to help them cope with the trauma they have experienced and ongoing anxiety they are likely to experience for days, weeks, or months after an event.
- Read through this brief document from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for ideas for talking to children about natural disasters.
- Here is a book list that could help children cope with earthquakes and other natural disasters. Many of these books can be found read out loud on YouTube or can be purchased.
- Please visit our page on understanding and managing anxiety for additional resources or our social and emotional learning page for in-depth resources on recognizing and managing emotions.
- If your child is having trouble coping with a natural disaster or experiencing ongoing anxiety for any reason, please contact your school or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance and review the strategies below.
Relaxation Techniques and Calming Strategies
Several free apps can help students with a practice of mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation.
Check out these free meditation resources from Calm to help individuals manage anxious feelings related to these uncertain times.
Deep Breathing: When relaxed, it’s natural to take long, deep breaths using the stomach (belly breathing). However, when feeling anxious or panicked, the body will breathe shallowly and rapidly. Deep breathing sends messages to the brain that begin calming the body. Example: Square Breathing: Breathe in slowly for a slow count of 4, hold your breath for a slow count of 4, exhale for a slow count of 4, then hold again for a slow count of 4. Repeat until you feel calm.
Calming Imagery: Thinking about something that is calming and peaceful, such as a favorite location or scenario. If you really try hard to think about it and focus on what it’s like (mindfulness), you may begin to have feelings associated with it, as our brains have the ability to create emotions based on our thoughts. Make sure you’re in a quiet place so as not to get distracted. Think of a calming place such as being on a beach, in the mountains.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tensing and relaxing muscles throughout your body can bring a sense of relaxation. It helps to relax the body through physical movement and to relax the mind by focusing on the task and the sensations experienced. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down. For each body area listed below, tense the muscle tightly but not to the point of pain, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Notice the difference between how it feels when tensed and relaxed.
- Feet – Curl your toes tightly into your feet, then let them relax
- Calves – Point or flex your feet, then let them relax
- Thighs – Squeeze your thighs together, then let them relax
- Buttocks – Squeeze together or flex tightly, then let them relax
- Torso – Tighten or suck in your stomach, then let it relax
- Chest – Flex your chest tightly, then let it relax
- Shoulders – Lift your shoulders up and backward, then let them relax
- Arms – Tighten your arm muscles, then let them relax
- Hands – Squeeze your hands into fists, then let them relax
- Face – Squeeze everything to the middle of your face, then let everything relax
- Full Body – Tighten everything together, then let everything relax, releasing all tension