1. The most important rule for dealing with children (and teens) when the SHTF is EXPLAIN EVERYTHING several times over. Don’t assume that the kids will know not to go outside in a natural disaster. Don’t assume that the kids will know that the storm or civil unrest (or whatever) will pass. Don’t assume that one explanation of the situation will sink in and be sufficient to reassure them.
Sit the kids and teens down. Explain the situation in simple and reassuring terms. Emphasize that they are safe and that the difficulty will be over soon. Answer their questions as simply as possible.
2. Give them something to do. Keep them occupied, and they will be much less likely to feel lost or unsafe. It’s a good idea to structure their time. Write down the day’s events, and their time. Have different activities scheduled for each period of time. Don’t expect them to occupy themselves, and don’t let them watch TV and play video games all day.
3. Food is reassuring. Schedule meals, and try to keep the kids from filling up on snack foods between meals. Mealtimes provide structure to the day, and food itself is comforting. But if the kids aren’t hungry because they ate between meals, then you lose this important daily reassurance.
4. If an adult has to leave the home, make sure the kids understand why and when they will be returning. In difficult situations, children worry that an adult who leaves the home might not come back.
5. A phone call from a relative can also be helpful. It lets the kids know that other people, outside their home, are also Okay.
6. Watching TV is fine, as long as it is not the news! You know what news channels are like. They thrive on sensationalism. They will show every disastrous video clip and photo they can find. The kids will think it is the end of the world, from the news coverage. No news shows for kids!
7. Whenever it’s safe, send the kids outside to play. And the more active they are outside, the better. Let them burn off some energy. It’s good for their emotional and mental health.
8. Pick a bedtime for the kids and stick to it. Then, if there is no school, don’t let them sleep in. Get them up and put some breakfast in them. Staying up late and sleeping late is not going to be good for them in the long run.
9. If you have to bug-out, let each kid bring some item that is comforting to them, in addition to the essentials. Tell the kids the plan for where you are going, and assure them that you will be returning home after not too long.
10. Don’t give teens too much responsibility. They are still basically just kids, and shouldn’t be asked to take an adult role, even when things are difficult.
Those are my thoughts. You are free to disagree or add your own helpful suggestions in the comments.