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  • Building resilient kids could start with a bubble

    Author: AAP

Blowing bubbles could be the first step to communicating with children about trauma, helping them build back stronger after disasters.

The exercise is among tips and activities included in a toolkit produced by pediatric and trauma experts and children's charity Royal Far West.

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Launched by bubble-blowing politicians and philanthropist Sarah Murdoch, the kit is based on successful outcomes with thousands of children, particularly following the Black Summer bushfires.

Occupational therapist Dagney Hopp said creating a "bubble monster", which forces a deep belly breath, produced a far better result than telling someone to breath deeply.

"It also helps to get that kid nice and still, and safe," the Royal Far West allied health clinical lead told AAP.

The Resilient Kids Toolkit gave parents ways to develop connection, communication and play skills with their children.

Physical copies to be distributed to 4000 families affected by bushfire and flood, include a sensory hand toy and a picture book called Birdie and the Fire, whose protagonist has to get away from a fire.

"When you've experienced something difficult, have a developmental vulnerability or disability or something like, your needs are more amplified and it's harder for you to feel safe and calm to need those things," Ms Hopp said.

"When you're a kid, it comes out in behaviours and you get disciplined or you get in trouble, which is the opposite of what needs to happen."

Bushfires and floods could have a devastating long-term impact on a child's mental health, emotional wellbeing, learning and development, Royal Far West chief executive Jacqueline Emery said.

That impact was heightened if support was delayed by months or years.

"Recovery takes time," she said.

"For children in rural and remote areas - where most of the impacts of natural disasters are felt - the trauma is compounded by difficulty in accessing the vital health and wellbeing services and support they need.

"While access to services is key, building the capacity of parents with effective tools and information, like the Resilient Kids Toolkit, can make a critical difference."

The pack was developed and distributed with the help of an unspecified donation by Ms Murdoch and husband Lachlan's foundation.

"Lachlan and I are passionate about giving all children the opportunity to live healthy, fulfilled lives and, to getting a fair deal in life," Ms Murdoch said at the launch on Thursday.

"We fully endorse Royal Far West's belief that healthy country children are critical to our nation and our future."

Digital copies of Birdie and the Fire and other stories dealing with natural disaster recovery are available on the Children's Health Queensland website.


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