Superstorm Sandy: How your child can help from afar

Here are ways children can channel their concern into helping friends, relatives, and other kids.

Photo: Les Stone/American Red Cross

By Jessica Kelmon

For kids not directly affected by Superstorm Sandy, news of the devastation can seem at once far away and close to home. Especially for kids who’ve been following news reports of so much devastation or for those whose friends or family have been severely impacted, “Helping out is a good coping mechanism,” says USC Professor Wendy Smith, an expert on disaster mental health and child development.

A powerful way to help is by enlisting your child to send useful items or gifts to pals, cousins, or other kids who have suffered loss in Sandy’s wake (learn five ways you can help). “One really great thing for kids not [affected directly] by the storm to do is brainstorm what they value the most,” Smith says. In the process, you’ll get the chance to help your child talk through her concerns and channel her energy into thinking about what she finds comfort in — and by extension what may comfort another child right now. The benefits are threefold: you’ll help your child process and manage her worries while learning about — and helping — kids in need.

For families who suffered great loss, any item that conveys comfort, connection, or even entertainment can help bolster spirits. Depending on a child’s age and needs, the following items are recommended:

These are just a few ideas. Anything that fortifies feelings of safety, normalcy, and connection, Smith says, are likely to help.

is an associate editor at GreatSchools.org.