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KMBC 9: Experts say it's important to talk, share and listen to kids after a disaster like a tornado

A tornado and its aftermath can take a toll on families – especially children.

So how do you talk to your kids after something like this?

Earlier this year - in areas like Oak Grove – everywhere you turned, there was a constant reminder of the destruction.

Experts say talking about it is a good idea. Share your feelings and listen – especially to your children.

“He told me, he says, ‘Mommy, please don’t let me die.’” Remembers Vickie Doenges. She and her family rode out the Oak Grove tornado. “I said, ‘I’m not going to let you die, baby.’ I said, ‘You are going to be okay.’”

“I feel a little anxious because I see the houses up there,” said Vickie’s son Gunner.

Vickie and Gunner were alone with their dog when the tornado hit just south of their street.

They hunkered down in the basement against the wall and pulled a mattress on top of them.

“They were still on top of me but I was still kind of scared.”

“The house just felt like it was shaking and I was trembling. I was irate. It was so scary.”

“There’s nothing more devastating to a family,” said Dr. Rochelle Harris – a Psychologist at Children’s Mercy. “There is no question that there’s trauma when there is such a loss.”

Experts at Children’s Mercy say the best way to beat post event anxiety is to focus on what was preserved – not what was lost.

Be calm. Try to get back on schedule.

“If the bedtime routine stays the same, that will be helpful. So you want to preserve as much normalcy as you can.”

Dr. Harris also says after an event like this – watch your children for changes in sleeping or eating habits.

And if playing doesn’t bring out their normal, happy mood – seek professional help.


See the full story via KMBC 9.

Learn more about the services offered by the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences at Children's Mercy.