5 tips to keep your child calm during a storm


February 17, 2022

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 we can experience extreme weather any time of year. While most storms are not severe enough to be considered natural disasters, they can create some pretty scary noises.

Things that are unpredictable (not to mention loud) tend to create the most anxiety for young children. Here are five tips to help your children stay calm during a storm:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Allow your child 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.
  5. 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.

Also, keep in mind these ways to stay informed during severe weather.

After-Hours care for your child

Vanderbilt’s Children’s After-Hours Clinics offer the convenience of a walk-in clinic with care provided by a board-certified pediatrician from Children’s Hospital. No appointment is necessary, but we recommend calling your pediatrician first. Learn more about services and find locations for Children’s Hospital After-Hours Clinic here.

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