The devastating effect of an earthquake on child psychology


An earthquake of magnitude 7.7, whose epicenter was in Kahramanmaras and which occurred on February 6, shook the whole of Turkey. It is known that natural disasters have a devastating effect on psychology. Children, in particular, are more susceptible to such stressful situations. Psychologists Bugrakhan Kyrbash and Irem Naz Kyrmyzy explain to families how they can help their children survive the earthquake.

Children under eight are at risk

Psychologist Bugrakhan Kirbash notes that after severe and devastating natural disasters, children may experience anxiety, fear, sadness, sleep disturbance, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and outbursts of anger. He adds that especially children under the age of eight are at greater risk of psychological health problems.

Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder may be observed.


Psychologist Bugrakhan Kyrbash said that some children may experience psychological disorders after the earthquake. “Stress and emotional problems affect children’s physical health, quality of life and their behavior at home, at school and in the community. It is important to ensure the psychological and physical safety of children during and after a disaster. “Parents who can recognize the signs of mental stress in children are best placed to help their children cope with stress and stay healthy.” speaks. “Children do not perceive and understand the situation as well as adults, they feel less self-confident and have less experience in such difficult situations.”

An earthquake has a devastating effect on human psychology


Psychologist Krim, who spoke about the detrimental effect of natural disasters on human psychology, “Knowing, recognizing and understanding these effects will help us deal with the psychological chaos they create. Since people react differently to each event, they will also differ in how they think about a disaster. While the first shock effect that occurs during an event is quiet and introverted, some may encounter it by crying and wailing. makes statements.

What can families do?

Reduce children’s screen exposure


Psychologist Irem Naz Kirim “Do not inflict a secondary injury, even if there is no injury in the first. Don’t talk too much about this situation, don’t show news footage. Not all images and sounds are suitable for all ages. speaks.

Let children’s feelings


Psychologist Kirbash gives the following advice to families: “Give your children the opportunity to talk about what they have been through or what they think about it. Encourage them to share their concerns and ask questions. Talking will calm them down. Have your children with you or another trusted adult who can help them feel safe, calm, and give them a sense of hope. Limit access to media related to the earthquake and its aftermath. Children directly affected by an earthquake may become upset again when they see or hear reminders of what happened. Encourage your children to take action directly related to the earthquake. This can help them regain a sense of control and manage their emotions. For example, children can help other people help the community or family members in a safe environment after a natural disaster. Children, especially young children, should never be involved in disaster relief activities.”

Tell your children about the earthquake

Noting that this process will affect children more than adults, the psychologist Krym recalls that earthquake images are not suitable for all ages. “You have to be clear and informative without exaggerating what is available. Listen carefully to their questions about the earthquake and try to answer them without embellishment.

Make meeting your physical needs a priority

Psychologist Kirim talks about how to approach children with post-traumatic anxiety disorder:

“The emotions that can arise after a natural disaster can take the form of fear, anger, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or a frozen image. You may be confused, have difficulty distinguishing between time and space, understand what is happening, and remain indecisive. You may be physically stressed, tired, have trouble sleeping, pain, irregular heart rate, nausea, and decreased appetite. You may experience problems in social life, anxiety, insecurity, anger, difficulty in controlling, feelings of abandonment, guilt while eating or sleeping, excessive blaming, feeling empty. Meeting the physical needs of the people we see in such a situation should be a priority. It is necessary that a person feel safe after meeting their needs for food, shelter and medical care. If he wants to tell his story, listen in a way that makes him feel understood, not alone. Providing accurate and explanatory clear information about the situation from the right sources, information that we confirm as from reliable sources, must be conveyed without hiding the truth, without obfuscating it. It is necessary to deliver a person to the nearest aid organization and help prepare the ground for contact with the survivors.” speaks.

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