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Helping children cope after a natural disaster

Helping children cope with natural disasters

Natural disasters, such as the Holiday Farm Fire and many other fires that Oregon is currently experiencing, can be tough to navigate – especially for children who may not have ever experienced such a drastic disruption to their everyday lives and routines.

In addition to facing a global pandemic, major changes to regular education and learning, young children are now living through Oregon’s worst fire season in history. Naturally, they may be feeling uneasy about the world around them.

But there are ways that parents and trusted adults can help them cope. This infographic created by the National Association of School Psychologists outlines some of the ways that parents and educators can help children cope with natural disasters.

In addition, Springfield Public Schools very own Kristin Rush, a School Psychologist in a recent interview provided a deeper dive into why it’s important to help children to process difficult situations.

“Kids really need some guidance from us (adults) on how to respond to traumatic events,” she said. “We’re the models and we’re the support systems that are going to show them how to navigate these difficult situations.”

Children are intuitive and aware of major changes to their routine. They pick up on feelings of fear and anxiety and they know what’s happening, according to Rush who said that it’s good for families to have open conversations about what might be creating such feelings.

“We need to be able to understand what they’re taking in and experiencing and try to reorient them to think about things in a positive way,” Rush said. “Trying to understand their developmental level and what they’re processing and then reframing those fears or anxiety to allow them to come out of this more resilient and with better coping strategies.”

Rush said that some children may have initial crisis response reactions and move on from them quickly, while others may display some level of extreme behavior for many days. Extreme behavior is considered to be things such as major changes to day-to-day life such as not eating, not sleeping, or other things that impact children’s ability to function on a regular basis.

“If extreme behavior lasts for more than a week, or if you see changes that last longer than a month, parents and guardians should consider seeking out extra help,” Rush said. “A school counselor or school psychologist could help to determine if that would be beneficial.”

To see a step-by-step guide for helping children cope with natural disasters, click here.  

Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Tips for Parents and Educators

helping students cope after a natural disaster

Local Springfield Public Schools counselors and resources by school.

All SPS staff can be reached by email using each person's first and last name (listed below) in the following format:

High Schools
A3 Wendy Zacharias- School Counselor
Kacy Stinson- School Psychologist
Gateways Julie Steyding- LCSW
Britt Landis- School Psychologist
Springfield High SueAnn Rangeloff- School Counselor (10th-12th A-Gi)
Erik Lansdon- School Counselor (10th-12th Go-N)
Matthew Adams- School Counselor (10th-12th O-Z)
Robyn Eicks- School Counselor (9th)
Leslie Taubenfeld- School Psychologist
SPS Online High Marissa Suhr- School Psychologist
Thurston High Damaris Carlson - School Counselor (A-E)
Jeannine Evans- School Counselor (F-L)
Rebecca Macemon- School Counselor (M-R)
Amy Stranieri- School Counselor (S-Z)
Jessica Shaneyfelt- School Psychologist
WLA-HS Britt Landis- School Psychologist
Middle Schools
Agnes Stewart Kate Mather- LCSW
Laurel Lisovskis- LCSW
Devon Annalora- School Psychologist
Briggs Alani Stuart- LCSW
Kacy Stinson- School Psychologist
Hamlin Simon Bernatz- School Counselor
Paul Griffith- School Counselor
Jennifer Mays- School Counselor
Noah Van Horn- School Psychologist
SPS Online Middle Marissa Suhr- School Psychologist
Thurston Middle Michelle Molony- LCSW
Tiffany Beattie- School Psychologist
WLA-MS George Perez- School Psychologist
Elementary Schools
Centennial Tiffany Beattie- School Psychologist
Douglas Gardens Devon Annalora- School Psychologist
Elizabeth Page Kelsey Snyder- School Psychologist
Guy Lee Britt Landis- School Psychologist
Maple Sheri Childers- School Psychologist
Mt Vernon Scott Rice- School Psychologist
Ridgeview Kacy Stinson- School Psychologist
Riverbend George Perez- School Psychologist
SPS Online Elementary Neighborhood School Psychologist
Thurston El Jessica Shanyfelt - School Psychologist
TRDR Moira McKenna- School Psychologist
Walterville Marissa Suhr- School Psychologist
Yolanda Billie Jo Rodriguez- School Psychologist