When everything goes south, the whole family must be prepared to pitch in. Does that imply that kids should be educated and trained to help out? Absolutely. During an emergency, every member of the family should have a role to play. That helps build the team and makes the children feel a part of getting through the turmoil.
Generally speaking, kids are pretty darn resilient. We may think that teenagers are airheads, but when given the chance they can perform quite well. The secret is to get all the kids involved from the get-go. That includes not only the initial planning stages, but in the execution of the plans.
What can younger children be expected to contribute? This is determined by their parents, who can best assess the capabilities of their children. Even two-year-olds can be taught small, manageable tasks to help them experience the event in positive ways. And their role might only be learning to play, rest, or read on their own while mom and dad get some serious work done.
Older kids and teens can be given simple tasks that are easy to complete. It might be packing their own bugout bags with essentials like clothing, personal bath items, toys, books and other things they might want.
If a bug-in is the first option, older kids through high school ages can be given more complicated or multiple tasks to work on. This might go as far as planning a meal and preparing it. It might be babysitting, or if taught properly, loading magazines with ammo. It might be taking care of pets or seniors who need help. It certainly means maintaining themselves so as not to be an additional drain on their parents.
Again, this goes back to early involvement and training alongside the parents. Teach them to pitch a tent, replace flashlight batteries, open canned goods, start a fire, or how to guard a door or window.
Kids are part of the family. Their help and assistance can be important. Create roles for them, show them how, and let them do it. They can prove to be a great asset during an amergency.