How to Calm Your Child’s Fear of Thunderstorms
With the threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms in southeast Michigan and across the country the time is rife for a discussion with your children about thunder and storms.
Fear of storms are common for children, and the best way to handle those fears is to communicate openly and simply with your kids. The best time to talk to your kids is ideally before a severe storm occurs so you can help to prepare them for what they will experience.
When your community’s sirens sound and your family prepare to take shelter in the basement or other safe place, you can prevent panic and fear while waiting for the storm to pass by bringing books, games, flashlights, and even snacks to help distract them. Many experts suggest buying an age appropriate book that takes the mystery and fear out of storms, such as Nature’s Fireworks: A Book About Lightningby Josepha Sherman.
Children may get scared, emotional or withdrawn depending on how they cope with the fear and uncertainty that surrounds a storm, flood, or power outage. They may want to watch the storm or talk incessantly about what is happening outside. As parents, we can help our kids weather the storm by exhibiting calm behavior for them to mimic—children oftentimes learn by your example. Limit media with graphic images about storms, these images can be scary to kids and accelerate their fears. Refocusing your children’s thoughts away from what’s happening outside will result in fewer meltdowns.
Use the current storm as an opportunity to teach your child how to stay safe when they are outside in a storm with common sense advice about going inside when lightning strikes, not to stand under a tree to protect themselves from a fallen branch or large object during high winds that can sometimes accompany storms, and to stay out of the water
It is important to offer kids as much reassurance as possible and remind them that they are in the family’s “safe” place. Calmly redirect children when their words or thoughts turn back to fear about the storm. Remember, your kids learn by watching you, so remain calm and they will learn to do the same.
Refocusing their attention by playing games, reading a book, or having an age appropriate teaching moment will help your kids weather thru the storm. Although scary, storms can also provide a good excuse for a warm cookie, a cup of hot cocoa, and bonding time with family.