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Letter from School Counselor

Dear parents:

As we begin to move forward after Harvey, I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you all to offer support for not only your children, but your family as well. Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented event that has affected every family uniquely. Just as our experiences are unique, needs will be as well. First, please feel free to reach out to me with any concerns you may have about your child during this time of recovery. Second, please keep in mind that your well being is also very important during this time, both for your family and yourself. Below are a few tips to help you support your child through the recovery of this event:

Power down 

News and social media are inundated with images and stories about the storm. These images, even the positive stories, can be overwhelming for children and can cause additional stress as they may relive their experience again.  

Self care

Please take care of yourself during this time. Your mental health and wellness are important for your well-being, as well as your child's. Self-care is not selfish. Each day, incorporate ways for you to release stress and process your own feelings about your experiences. 

Let children express their feelings about the storm

Every child will have their own unique feelings about the storm. No feeling is wrong and allowing your child the opportunity to feel comfortable with whatever they maybe feeling and giving them the opportunity to express those feelings will allow them the ability to further process how the experience. Children may play out their experiences as a way to process, others may openly discuss their experiences while others may draw, write, create or even need to move their body as an expression. Allow your child the opportunity to express those needs in the way in various ways. 

Offer reassurance 

Children may continue to feel worried about their own safety. These feelings may intensify in rainy weather or during transitions. Reassure your child that they are safe and that you are there to care for them and keep them safe. 

Re-establish routines or create new routines

Being away from routine, moving out of their home and even being away from school can also be stressful for children. As soon as you are able, return to normal routines such as bedtimes, mealtimes, and other daily routines. If you have relocated, establishing a new routine for your current situation can also help children know what to expect and further reassure them of their safety and comfort. 

Be patient

This is a big event that will bring big emotions. The process of working through the feelings about the storm will take time. Feelings may emerge now or months later or vary over time. Be patient with them and yourself as you work through the multitude of emotions that the experience may bring. Children may regress in development temporarily as they spend time processing their feelings. Separation and situational anxiety is to be expected ,and children will need additional support and reassurance that they are safe.

Recognize signs of struggle

Behavioral changes, sleep and eating changes, crying, withdrawal, excessive fear or anxiety, acting out, aggression, or any change in your child that seems out of the ordinary, maybe a reaction to their feelings about the storm. If you see any of these signs or have any concerns about your child throughout this process, please reach out to me for support in the situation. 

Please know that we are here to support you through this experience. Again, please contact me with your concerns or needs.

For additional information :
http://www.nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/edu_materials/Helping_Young_Children_Heal.pdf 

Sincerely,
Casey Casteel
Elementary School Counselor