Preview: Help your child overcome a fear of thunderstorms through comfort and education.
Is your child afraid of thunderstorms?
Does your child quiver at the first sign of rain clouds? Is he afraid of thunder? Scared of lightning? Hate rain and storms altogether? Mine too! As parents we always want to help our children feel safe, especially when mother nature flexing her muscles.
I am sharing the method I used to help my daughter go from crawling up into my lap during thunderstorms to sitting in a chair at the door watching the rain that “looks like diamonds falling from the sky” (her words!).
This article is not meant as medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience as a mom. Concerns about your child’s healthy or safety should be discussed with your medical professional.
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How to stop being afraid of thunderstorms
Thunderstorm fear can come out of nowhere. My daughter had never said a word about the weather until a few months ago.
I got an Amazon Echo for Christmas and I love it. We use it literally every day (especially for Amazon Music to play the soundtrack for every. single. animated movie. we have ever seen). It is great exercise, super fun, and great mommy & me time. It even finds my missing cell phone. However…
Lately, “Alexa” has become our weather girl. My daughter is constantly asking “Alexa, what is the weather today?” as she nervously stares out the window studying the sky. If Alexa mentions showers or (gasp) thunderstorms… the rest if the day is spent asking about what time the storm is starting or checking out the window for rain.
This is just not typical behavior for her so I was pretty desperate to help. I looked at a couple of resources I have used before then pulled together a plan. After about a month (lots of summer storms!) she is feeling much better and now says that storms are “pretty”.
Helping your child overcome a fear of thunderstorms:
Knowledge is power
When we understand something, it immediately become less scary. Use truthful and factual information to explain to a child what is happening in the sky (being as age appropriate as possible). I have found that using old saying such as “the angels are bowling” just cause more confusion. Using a few resources that are great for finding kid-sized answers, we learned about what causes lightning and thunder. Epic! is our go-to app when we have questions about anything. We read some non-fiction books about thunderstorms geared toward her age group and learned that thunder is just hot and cold air “hitting” together. (Air isn’t scary, right?!)
Discuss the benefits of rain
While we are learning about what storms are, we also talk about why they are important. (Such as rain makes plants grow, we eat plants, animals eat plants, it fills our rivers for the fish…). We learned some of these things in the book Franklin and the Thunderstorm.
Besides Mom’s comforting hugs, let your child find a security item to hold during a storm. A special blanket, stuffed animal, or favorite book can go a long way in providing some security when a child is scared. There are also some great options for kids such as Weighted blankets (designed to help reduce anxiety), fidget spinners (used for their originally intended purpose), or non-spinning fidget toys, All are great options for providing comfort and/or distraction during a storm.
Reduce the effects of the storm
Try to reduce anxiety by minimizing the sensory aspects of the storm. Keep the blinds drawn so they can’t see the rain and wind. Get them to a room where the storm is not as loud. Noise canceling headphones are a great way to reduce or even eliminate the sounds of a thunderstorm. You can also help by providing a distraction that keeps their mind occupied and off of the storm. This might be an iPad, video games, their favorite music, reading books, building a puzzle, or watching their favorite movie. I often used a combination of these to distract my daughter during the worst parts of the storm.
Have a Thunderstorm Party!
When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! When a storm is brewing and nerves start to flare, have a Thunderstorm Party! Maybe that means everyone gets their sleeping bag, eats cookies in the living room, and plays a board game (something distracting like Pie Face!). You can keep a “Thunderstorm party box” of activities and treats and pull it out any time a storm is on its way. Try an indoor activity. Whatever tradition you decide on, make it upbeat and fun so a storm can be something the kids look forward to, instead of fear. (Thunderstorm parties might work best after you have made some progress with their fear through education and other comfort measures).
*Astraphobia (fear of thunderstorms) is a real condition and nothing to be made light of. Sometimes children just need to understand a phenomenon so they don’t fear it. Then other times there is an actual problem. If you are concerned about your child’s fear of thunderstorms, please discuss with your pediatrician or health care professional.
Pin it! for the next time there is a storm and your child is clinging to you for comfort. YYYY
Thunderstorms can be scary sometimes. Whether you are an adult or a child (or even a pet!), deafening “BOOMS” and brilliant flashes of lightning can send a shock of fear through your system. Children still fear the unknown and the ferocity of mother nature can be downright terrifying. Taking these few steps can go a long way in quelling their fear of thunderstorms.