How professionals recommend parents talk with kids after a tornado

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Many children didn’t realize they were in danger when a tornado passed right over Mt. Zion Baptist Church Thursday morning. One little girl said “I was brave.” when her mom asked her what happened.  In a sweet moment we showed you on Facebook yesterday, another child said “Power Rangers” were responsible for the tornado.

Hannah Ellis, a child mental health specialist at Four Rivers Behavioral Health, says children are all affected in different ways. “While they might think their kids are fine, their kids are OK, it could have more of an impact on them than they realize,” Ellis says.

The nursery was destroyed. None of the kids were in there because of staff evacuations.

The children played games and sang songs while they were in a safe room, but the preschool director says some have started looking for answers.

“I know several of the parents talked to me since, and they said they have asked questions about it, and they were telling them it was loud” preschool director Michelle Rushing says.

It’s important for the children to have a safe environment to talk out their feelings. Parents can start by asking non-leading questions.

Volunteers dug up this cross that was underneath pounds of debris and rubble in the destroyed chapel.

“Just being able to have that conversation without attacking them by saying ‘We’re you scared? We’re you freaked out? We’re you nervous?” says Ellis.

She says parents see that the destruction is traumatizing, and it may get overwhelming to talk to to their children.

“It might be best to not escalate their own feelings and emotions in front of the child,” said Ellis. “Maybe find a close friend, or relative, or spouse they could talk to about their own feelings.”

If parents are looking for online resources to talk to their children about the storm, they can click here for a guide from Four Rivers.

The daycare will not re-open until the church finds a state approved place for the children.

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