Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dealing with disasters

In the wake of the Joplin tornado I have been asked about how it impacts children's play.  One parent was alarmed that every time her three-year-old played she seemed to include a tornado that would come through and knock down her play setting (dolls, stuffed animals, etc.).  This was very distressing to the parent who thought it was having a continued negative impact on her child. 

In fact what is happening is the child is taking control of the uncontrollable.  By incorporating it into her play she makes sense of it and manipulates it to her advantage.  It helps to take away some of the fear and to gain control of her life.  Where children in Joplin are playing tornado, years ago in Louisiana were playing hurricane and those in violence plagued cities play guns.  This is not saying that parents and teachers should take a hands off approach, but that they should recognize what is happening and have conversations with the child to help them talk through the feelings.  View it as a positive and know there are ways to build off of it.

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