When families are planning and preparing for a bushfire emergency, it is important that children are protected from becoming too frightened or anxious, even though their fears may be real, according to a new brochure about preparing children for the threat of bushfire.
A joint initiative between the Australian Psychological Society and the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network, the brochure provides ways for parents and carers to help children manage their fears and have a greater sense of being in control in threatening bushfire situations.
"Bushfires can be frightening for anyone, but children can often be terrified," says Dr Susie Burke from the Australian Psychological Society. "Parents and carers can help their children feel safe by being cool, calm and collected themselves."
The brochure, Preparing children for the threat of bushfire: Information for parents and carers, outlines steps for parents and carers to become psychologically prepared so that they can then help children learn the same skills.
"Being psychologically prepared makes it easier to think clearly and act according to the household emergency plan," Dr Burke says. "It can reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed in an emergency situation, and allow you to feel in control of the situation even though you may understandably be showing signs of anxiety."
The brochure also covers ways that parents and carers can involve children in physical preparations for the whole household to ensure everyone is familiar and comfortable with the bushfire plan.
Brochures including Preparing children for the threat of bushfire: Information for parents and carers and information on managing in bushfire emergencies can be found on the APS website (www.psychology.org.au) and the website of the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (www.earlytraumagrief.anu.edu.au).
The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 18,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.
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