BOSTON (CBS) – President Barack Obama declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts and Governor Deval Patrick mobilized 2,500 National Guard soldiers as Hurricane Irene moved northeast Saturday. The news coverage and wild weather may cause young children to get scared.

Dr. Irwin Redlener of the Public Health National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University offers advice to parents when it comes to soothing the anxiety of youngsters.

“You’re going to be hearing a lot of wind, a lot of noise…all of that’s going to have the potential to create quite a bit of anxiety in children,” Dr. Redlener said. “Holding them, making sure you’re physically close, answering questions that they have and trying to remain calm are the most important things to do.”

Explain to your kids that although this is a dangerous storm, many of the measures being taken are precautions which will keep your family safe.

“Reassure children that there is going to be a big event, but we’re going to keep ourselves…as safe as we possibly can, and that’s why Mom and Dad are doing the various things we have to do to get ready.”

Don’t try and change the subject.

“It doesn’t really do any good to try and avoid the issue,” Redlener said. “There’s probably too much going on to say ‘nothing’s happening,’ so honesty is the best policy here.”

Of course, the amount of honesty depends on the age and developmental status of your child.

“There’s a lot more you can say to a 15-year-old than you can say to a 5-year-old.”


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