5 tips to keep your child calm during a storm
The unpredictable nature of a storm can create anxiety for your child.
Clouds of darkness set in, flashes of lightning rip through the sky and the vibrations of thunder crash against the windows. No, this is not the beginning of a horror movie – this is nighttime, and your children are scared to go to sleep.
Two-thirds of Middle Tennessee tornadoes occur in storm season, March, April and May, but today, we are faced with the threat at an unseasonal time of year. While most storms will not result in a natural disaster, they can create some pretty scary noises.
Todd Peters, M.D., Vanderbilt assistant professor of psychiatry, believes things that are unpredictable tend to create the most anxiety. Here are five tips to help your children stay calm during a storm:
- Limit TV and movies – It’s common for children to develop fears based on a scary movie or television show. While it may be interesting to you, watching “The World’s Deadliest Storms: Part 3” is not the best option for your children. Children should also avoid watching news coverage of bad storms because the most severe storm damage will be shown.
- Remain calm – Children usually follow their parents’ lead. If they see you worry, they may begin to worry too. Help them understand that you feel safe, and you are going to keep them safe.
- Distract them from the storm – Create an activity that will shift their focus from the storm. Consider playing games, reading books aloud or using blankets, pillows and flashlights to create a fun, indoor camping experience.
- Allow your child to have a cuddle buddy – Sometimes, holding a stuffed animal is all a child needs to feel safe and secure. These plush friends can help your children feel an extra layer of protection while sleeping.
- Be prepared – When the electricity goes out, it can create chaos if you don’t have a plan. Show your children that you are in control of the situation by remaining calm, using flashlights and offering snacks like crackers, fruit and water.
In most cases, being afraid of thunder and lightning is completely normal, but parents should monitor children to make sure fear does not increase with each storm. This type of pattern could lead to anger, behavioral changes or continuous nightmares. If your child begins having difficulty in school or starts refusing to sleep alone, contact a mental health professional to help your child work through their fears.