Is your child scared of storms? Read this.
Severe weather can cause anxiety and fear in people of all ages. Dr. Emma Olivera, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital, explains where those feelings may stem from in children.
“Depending on their age, a child’s fear or anxiety around storms may come from loud noises. As they grow, it can be related to things they have experienced. Maybe they’ve seen their neighborhood or home affected by fierce winds and downpours. When they are exposed to media, they may be worried about storms because of the grand-scale destruction they’ve seen in movies or on the news.”
Dr. Olivera offers the following tips for parents to help their children feel safe and calm through storms:
Before a storm:
- Discuss what things about storms your child likes and dislikes and avoid minimizing their fears. Active listening is important.
- Make a safety plan. Discussing ways to stay safe whether you are at home or away from home when a storm occurs can provide comfort.
- Role play with your child by replicating a thunderstorm, using noises from a phone app or materials at home, and act out your safety plan.
- If you haven’t created a safety kit for your home, do so. An internet search can help you make sure you have the right items, including flashlights, first aid supplies, water bottles, extra batteries and more. Remind your child where the safety kit is kept.
During a storm:
- Explain what is happening during the storm. If your child understands what is going on around them, they may have decreased anxiety.
- Stay calm and reassure your child. Modeling a positive and calm attitude will help your child feel comforted.
- Talk through your family’s safety plan and reassure your child that you are there for them.
- Find ways to distract your child using games, reading books or eating snacks.
After the storm:
- Reassure your child the storm is over or lightening up based on weather information. If it is safe to do so, resume usual activities.
- Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the storm, as what is shared on the news is typically focused on the storm’s destruction.
“Feeling prepared, whether you are a child or an adult, can go a long way when it comes to managing feelings of anxiety or fear,” says Dr. Olivera.
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About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.