How to talk to children about earthquake trauma
The earthquake was frightening for everyone, but perhaps even more so for children, who may feel like adults can't protect them.
Jim McLaughlin, a mental health clinician with the State's Division of Behavioral Health, said parents should be monitoring their children and be available to talk to them about their fears or concerns.
"A lot of it can be guided by letting a child talk about what's really on their minds and what their concerns are. It can also give you a better sense of what their level of knowledge really is," he said.
McLaughlin said children need information. The very youngest may not understand what caused the ground to shake.
"For young kids that can be really important," he said. "To make sure they understand what happened, what can cause an earthquake, what aftershocks are, and how long they may go on for."
McLaughlin said every child reacts differently to trauma, but symptoms could include feeling nervous, clingy, frightened or depressed. But those symptoms shouldn't last forever. McLaughlin said if children are still feeling excessive stress six weeks or so after the event, parents may want to seek counseling.
In the meantime, he said, parents can help by trying to remain calm themselves.
"Because kids will take their cue from how their parents are reacting," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said now is a good time to talk with children about how to stay safe during an earthquake. He said developing a family plan can be reassuring for everyone.
For children or adults who are experiencing trauma and would like to talk to someone about it, McLaughlin recommends the Alaska Careline, a 24-hour crisis line at 1-877-266-HELP (4357).
On Friday, the state department of education put out a resource list for schools and families.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network also has an app for parents called HELP KIDS COPE.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION: