Updated July 3, 2019 . AmFam Team
Some children have a tough time when it’s raining cats and dogs. But you can help your kids manage their fears by knowing what works for them. Below are tips to keep your little ones’ anxieties at bay and helpful advice to consider so that you’re ready when the skies grow dark.
Preparing for severe weather takes the whole family’s participation. Bring everyone together to learn how to spot the signs of an impending storm and practice your plan for getting to your designated shelter, whether that’s at home, school or a community building. The more knowledge and practice your kids get, the more confident and less afraid they’ll be when the storm arrives.
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 — 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.
Work with kids on mindfulness. One simple way to slow down a nervous mind is to direct kids to inhale slowly through the nose, hold that breath for a moment, and then exhale quietly though the mouth. Have them repeat this exercise several times, and you’ll find they’re calmer in no time at all.
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.
Stay calm and your kids will follow. If you sense a child getting anxious, remember they could be 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.
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.
Stay informed on the storm. Download a weather related app to your phone — many will alert you to National Weather Service notifications in real time.
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. Kids also love a good dance party. Use your smartphone to stream music so 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. Once the storm is over they should wait for 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.
Be 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.
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. If you’re wondering what kind of storm damage is covered by your home insurance, connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to talk about your coverage options today.