How to Calm Your Children in an Emergency

Children take their cues from you; they watch and understand your behavior well. In times of an emergency, do not forget them or treat them as things to place in a safety zone and leave. They will feel your fear and react accordingly. Instead, you need to involve them in every step and be honest with them. Throughout this, however, you must keep calm (or at least pretend to keep calm), as your calmness will equate to theirs.  Do not raise your voice (unless you will not be heard otherwise). Assure them that everything will be okay, but that you need to act (respond) immediately.


  • 1

    Explain calmly what is happening and what is to be expected. For example, "There is a big storm outside. The wind is very loud and is quite strong. We might be safe here, but we are going to move downstairs where we are safer." Do your explaining as you are taking the necessary steps to keep them safe and comfortable.

  • 2

    Safety is key. If there is any time, be sure to get food, drinks, flashlights, blankets, and changes of clothing. Assign the children small tasks to keep them involved, and in the loop - this will prevent panic. For example:

    "Bring your blanket and pillow and quickly follow me."
    "Bring one toy with you."
    "Hold my hand and Michael's hand, and come with me."

  • 3

    If you need to leave them, even for a few seconds, explain where you are going and that you will be back before they can count to a certain number; if possible, just take them with you. For example: "I need to get some milk and cookies from upstairs for you. I will be back before you can count to 100. Start counting when I get to the first stair."

  • 4

    If you are all waiting together (for example in a storm) and it is scary, hold each other hands. Your mere physical touch will give the children a great deal of assurance. Distract them from the scariness of the situation. For example, sing a song, read a book for them, or pretend that you are camping.

  • 5

    If you are religious, hold hands and pray. Be frank and honest in your prayers and ask for help in your time of need. Your children will know that even if you feel helpless, there is a higher Power that is not. Be honest, but gentle. If you lose your possessions during the emergency, but your family stays intact, explain to your children how they must be grateful. Possessions can be replaced, even if it takes a while, but having your family is the most important thing.

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