What should you tell your kids about what’s hap­pen­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando nvil­lal­pando@statesman.com Con­tact Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando at 512-912-5900.

We’re all watch­ing it on TV, on so­cial me­dia. Scene af­ter scene of boat res­cues, flooded streets, peo­ple on rooftops. Our kids are watch­ing it, too, and they’re watch­ing our stress lev­els rise as we worry about what is hap­pen­ing in Houston and to peo­ple we might know.

What are we sup­posed to tell our kids about Hur­ri­cane Har­vey?

That de­pends on the age of your child as well as the kind of child you have, says Ju­lia Hoke, a li­censed psy­chol­o­gist and the di­rec­tor of psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices at Austin Child Guid­ance Cen­ter. Most chil­dren of preschool age and younger prob­a­bly don’t need to be told much, she says. Re­al­ize that kids that age are very self-cen­tered and think that it must be hap­pen­ing here and to them, Hoke says. Re­as­sure them that you are safe.

If your child is par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive and tends to worry a lot, be es­pe­cially care­ful about what you say.

“You re­ally need to know your in­di­vid­ual child,” says Dr. Julie Alonso-Kat­zowitz, a child and ado­les­cent psy­chi­a­trist at Dell Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter of Cen­tral Texas.

With el­e­men­tary schoolage chil­dren and older, you can watch TV with them and ask them what their ques­tions are. An­swer them hon­estly but don’t given them any more in­for­ma­tion than they need. Again, you’re try­ing to avoid worry about things you and your chil­dren can­not con­trol.

RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMER­I­CAN-STATESMAN

Rosanna Gar­cia and her daugh­ter Mia Franco, 2, stayed at the Smithville Recre­ation Cen­ter af­ter be­ing forced to leave Bay City be­cause of Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey. The cen­ter shel­tered about 40 storm evac­uees.

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