How to Ease Your Kids' Fears During Storms
Some children can have a tough time when it’s raining cats and dogs. Helping kids to manage their fears is all about knowing what works for them. Below are tips to better manage your little one’s anxieties and helpful advice to consider so that you’re ready when the skies grow dark.
Before the Storm: What You Can Do
Many of the ideas below are steps you can take on sunny days to help build strong minds so that — when that stormy day comes — your kids are ready for whatever Mother Nature might bring.
Stay calm and your kids will follow. If you sense a child getting anxious, remember they’re taking emotional cues from you. Remaining calm and confident when the weather gets intense will demonstrate to children that things are under control. Offer reassurance and cuddles, too.
Work with kids on mindfulness. If your kids have been introduced to meditation exercises in school, they’re likely familiar with the calming benefits of stopping to take a few deep breaths. One simple way to slow down a nervous mind is to direct kids to inhale slowly through the nose, hold that breath in for a moment, and then exhale quietly though the mouth. Have them repeat this exercise several times. The benefits are big. You’ll find that they’re more calm and collected in no time at all.
Empower through education. Take a trip to the library and spend a little time exploring books on the types of severe weather that your area experiences. Kids should bring home the books that interest them and you can use these materials to help them dive in and understand the science behind stormy weather. Learning about why lightning occurs and what makes thunder so loud can help kids feel more in control.
Mute the media. As severe weather approaches, live TV’s storm updates can be very important for us to know what’s heading our way, but it can also provoke anxiety in children. Lowering the volume and turning on closed captioning can get you the details you need while helping your kids stay relaxed.
Planning is paramount. The National Weather Service recommends practicing a tornado drill at home. Identify a designated shelter area in a basement or lowest floor that is away from windows and is structurally strong, like under a stairway or inside a closet.
Make a bad weather kit. Near your safe area, keep a toolbox containing things you’ll need in the event of an emergency, or loss of power. Pack it with flashlights, batteries, and a weather radio. Also, place a blanket, bottles of water and other items you might need nearby. Additional tips can be found in our DIY Natural Disaster Kit and 9 Steps to Prep for a Natural Disaster articles.
Stay informed. Download a weather related app to your phone — many will alert you to National Weather Service notifications in real time. And some really good apps are “nowcasting” or developing hyper-localized forecasting based on you location.
Keep it kid friendly. Put together a box full of fun projects for kids to work on in your sheltering area. Include flashlights, glow sticks, healthy snacks, coloring books and crayons, etc. Kids also love a good dance party. Use your smartphone to stream music and they can get their wiggles out.
Safely riding the storm out. If kids are out and about when the weather turns foul, they need to know how to react quickly. Should thunder and lightning descend on the neighborhood, they should move indoors immediately — keeping away from open spaces — and never stop to seek shelter under a tree. A safe idea is to practice the 30/30 rule: If the time between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder clap is less than 30 seconds, the lightning is close enough to pose a threat, so they should go inside. Once the storm is over they should wait for 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.
Aware in the aftermath. Powerful thunderstorms are often accompanied by high winds. This can uproot trees which may bring down power lines — sometimes into areas of standing water. Make sure to talk to the kids about avoiding these serious hazards. They’ll be able to recognize dangerous situations, and you’ll feel better knowing they are well informed.
Ready for anything. These simple measures can make a big difference when the weather gets rough. And remember — another important preparation for summer storms should be a review of your homeowner’s policy. Check in with an American Family Insurance agent to talk about your coverage options today.