Teaching Children That When Bad Things Happen They Still Can Be Okay.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.
John Keats

When my children returned to school after Hurricane Sandy, it was so interesting to hear how different children reacted to the storm.  The parents that I spoke with had suffered property damage and power outages, but for the most part didn’t know anyone who died in the hurricane or its aftermath.

During the storm, some children went on with their normal routines even though they had no power.  They played and ate and never really focused on more than their immediate surroundings.  Other children were annoyed by the inconveniences and the break from electronics.  Some helped their parents clean up property damage and others went to stay with family and friends. There were also many that experienced some level of anxiety, ranging from mild to severe, about the storm, the damage, and the suffering.

Although my older daughter’s anxiety was not extreme, I noticed there were moments when she was really scared and worried.  I have always associated my daughter’s anxiety with a feeling of groundlessness when she doesn’t know what will happen next and the fear of uncertainty is overwhelming.  She worries that things won’t work out the way she wants or that something she perceives as negative won’t get better.  However, during this storm, which caused so much destruction, it became clear to me that part of her anxiety stemmed from the fear that if something bad happens she and the people around her will not be okay.  And the more I thought about it, I realized that her fear of “not being okay” was a large part of her that would never be at peace.  She spent so much time worrying that bad things she read or heard about could possibly happen to her or someone she loved.  She thought, “How can I be okay if these things actually do happen?”

Our discussions about Hurricane Sandy were important to her, but the events themselves showed her that although life may be uncomfortable or even harsh at times, it will continue and possibilities still exist.  This might not seem like such a revelation to you, but for some people and in particular for children, the Continue reading…

Hurricane Sandy –I Lost Power But Maybe Found a Stronger Connection

It has been a few days since hurricane Sandy reached the Northeast and caused havoc for millions. I remained in my apartment in New York City for three days with my two daughters without electricity or water.  The days had their challenges but I noticed how my daughters and I all stayed together the entire time. We ate, slept, talked and played together.  We laughed about the non-working toilet that was starting to smell and the hard biscuits I made in the dark. We played the board game Clue until the last bit of light was gone from the sky and we could no longer see the board.  When I went to sleep the second night without power, I thought to myself: why hadn’t I played board games with them in such a long time? Why do I feel I know my children better after these three days? What was I doing that was more important than being with them?

Down the street, my brother also lost electricity and water in his apartment building. My brother and another man carried a neighbor who was wheelchair bound down the stairs and then went back up to carry down his wheelchair.  My brother had never spoken to the man before and they lived on the same floor.  They did not even know each other’s names.  I have several friends who also met their neighbors for the first time after living in their homes for several years.  What are we so busy doing that we do not know more of our neighbors?

After three days, we were invited to stay at a friend’s home in Brooklyn, which had power.  When I had an opportunity to recharge my phone, it immediately started to beep with messages.  Many friends were checking in from near and far to see if my family and I were alright.  I heard from more people than I do on Continue reading…