Back to school could spark bad flood memories, expert says
Child psychologist advises parents to watch for signs of stress as children return to class
The trauma of the summer flood could be reignited as children across southern Alberta start going back to school next week, a Calgary expert says.
The school year ended abruptly in June with many families under evacuation order and the province in disaster mode.
Dr. Michael Zwiers, a child psychologist who teaches at the University of Calgary, said the back-to-school experience could spark troubling memories.
"One of the things that's unusual or unique about children is that they tend to personalize. So there's going to be a group of them who are going to blame themselves," he said.
"They are going to think that somehow they did something wrong and that's how this event occurred."
Zwiers said parents should watch their kids for signs of stress and reassure them that the worst is over.
Parents of younger children might have less to worry about.
High River parents meet
Janelle Cooper’s two-year-old son Greysen was barely aware that a flood forced his family from their home, she said.
"He knew that we were leaving. And he knew that we were nervous about something, which made him a little nervous," she said.
The experience could be more traumatic for elementary students.
"My older daughter, who is 6, she did ask me what was going on and why and I told her there was a flood that a lot of people were affected," said Raj Upadhyay, who has two children.
Parents in the flood-ravaged community of High River met Tuesday night for a presentation about how to help students dealing with back-to-school stress.
Judy Arnall led the session for concerned parents, saying children often act out instead of talking out.
She said children do best when they have consistent routines and predictability. She said they also need a way to express their feelings and art, music or writing can often help children do that.