Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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June 16, 2011

Capital Area Counseling Provides Tips
for Talking to Children After a Disaster

PIERRE, S.D. -- Capital Area Counseling, with offices located in Pierre, wants parents and other caretakers to be familiar with ways they can respond to questions and concerns that children and youth may be having due to the recent flooding in the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities.

“Children and youth respond to disasters in many different ways,” said Dennis Pfrimmer, CEO of Capital Area Counseling. “Some may have reactions very soon after the event; others may seem to be doing fine for weeks or months, and then begin to show anxiety and fear in their behaviors. As parents and caretakers, we need to be aware of the signs so we can respond appropriately.”

Tips for Talking to Children After a Disaster

  • Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they are seeing and hearing on the local news and encourage them to ask questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you can’t answer all their questions.
  • Answer questions at a level the child can understand.
  • Allow children to discuss other fears and concerns about unrelated issues.
  • Monitor children’s television watching of the disaster. If possible, watch the reports of the disaster with children to help answer questions and provide support.
  • Help children understand that there are no bad emotions and that a wide range of reactions are normal. Encourage children to express their feelings to adults (including teachers, parents or other trusted adults) who can help them understand their emotions.
  • Try not to focus on blame.
  • In addition to the sad things they have been seeing or experiencing, help children identify the good things, such as: heroic actions, families and neighbors helping each other out, perhaps being invited to a special meal, and the assistance offered by complete strangers from across the state and country.

Capital Area Counseling is coordinating the local behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) crisis response with support from surrounding communities and other statewide partners. Individuals and families who have been impacted by the flood and are dealing with stress, anxiety, fear and other behavioral health issues are encouraged to seek professional assistance. Counseling is currently available at no cost to those who are being impacted by this disaster in Pierre and Fort Pierre.

If you or any of your family members need to speak with someone about the flood and its impact on your life, professionals are available for call-in and walk-in assistance. All information is confidential.

  • Contact information:
    Dennis Pfrimmer
    Phone: 605-224-5811 (office hours) / 605-295-2311 (any time)
    Locations: 803 E. Dakota Ave. and 2510 E. Franklin St.