"The children have been through a lot. Do you have any tips on how to help them cope with the situation?" asks a woman from the audience.
"Anytime children go through a trauma, whether it's a divorce, or they lose a loved one, or a natural disaster like this, the number one thing kids look for is, is there a parent in the family who is capable, ready, willing and able, to conduct the business of the family?" says Dr. Phil. "And it's not so much the physical plan, it's not so much the home, the community, which — they miss those things, there's no question about it — but they look to see if there's somebody there who's going to be the CEO, who's going to run things, who's going to make it all happen.
"And the worst thing in the world you can do is say, 'OK, I'm in a tough spot here, so I'm going to be more forgiving of the children. I need to understand that they've been through a lot.' So you start getting lax, maybe even a little indulgent. That's the worst thing you can do with children during this time. Bed times, routines, standards, requirements, grooming, all of the things that they can do, they need to continue to do. If they've always gone to bed at 8:30, even if it's on a cot in a shelter, you ought to really try to keep that ritual going so they have that routine, that sameness. Because that's where they start to feel like, 'OK, the world seems to be acting crazy, but my life is the same, my compass is the same.'"
"It's also really important to spend some time talking and listening," continues Dr. Phil. "And if they're not asking questions, then answer the questions you think they've got in their mind. 'Are we going to be OK? Where are we going to be tomorrow?' And the important answer to that is, 'Yes, we're going to be OK. And where we're going to be tomorrow is together. It doesn't matter what city, what town, what house, we're going to be together. Because the most important thing to me, as your mom, is you. And I'm going to be here and I'm going to take care of you.'"