How To Help Children Frightened By Storms

This good question came at the right time of the year. How to help children frightened by storms. Do your kids get scared? Did you get scared when you were young? Everyone who comes here often or knows me, knows I’ve been through a lot of tornado’s. Back in the 60’s I was in the one of the worst storms of my state’s history and it did teach me at a very young age to respect mother nature.

Even though I was very scared, I really tried keeping it together when I was ushering my young boys into the basement while their dad went outside and watched it!!! Some things never change. BUT…I let them have flashlights and we had “tornado toys” and stuff in the basement. The only time they ever really got scared was once during an “all nighter,” the storms and rain were so bad that the water started coming in through our basement walls and that scared them.

I have a nephew who was unnaturally scared of storms and he got to the point for a few years that he was like the little girl in this new story. He worried so much about what might happen and if a cloud came in the sky, he just freaked out. He wouldn’t go to swimming lessons and he wouldn’t play ball. His life pretty much stopped during the summer for a good three years.

So I tried teaching him about storms and about tornado’s so he could learn more about weather conditions and if they were ripe for storms or not. I think in the end he just outgrew it. I’m sure most kids do. I know a lot of adults who are plenty afraid of storms but I don’t think it dictates their lives. But I do think a lot of kids will act in the same manner their parents to. If the  parents freak out, so will the child.

Are your kids afraid of storms and how do you handle it? Were you afraid of them you were young and how did your parents handle it? Are you unnaturally afraid of storms now?

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7 Responses to How To Help Children Frightened By Storms

  1. SKL says:

    Funny that you should ask! This summer has been interesting with Little E. We had that big wind / lighning storm where, for the first time in her life, we had to go to the basement. It got pretty dark and the lights went on and off for a while. Later it was all pleasant so we walked around and assessed the damage from the storm. Branches here and there, a couple trees damaged by lightning. Then just at bedtime, the lighning and loud thunder suddenly started again. That was it for Little E! Next we heard fireworks for many nights, of course right at the time the girls were supposed to be falling asleep. Little A is fine, but Little E now gets up and comes to my room every time she hears a noise that might be thunder or fireworks. She wants her bedroom door left a little open, too. Previously, it was a simple “good night, lights out, door shut” procedure.

    Little E also got pretty nervous during waking hours when a dark thundercloud came along a couple weeks ago. She wanted no part of whatever festivities we were going to; just wanted to go home. That time, though, I couldn’t blame her. The cloud looked pretty menacing.

    I am not one to get freaked out about nature. Storms, bugs, whatever, I just take it in stride. I actually think storms are pretty cool, as long as nobody gets hurt or suffers a loss. However, my kid is genetically a wuss. I honestly don’t know where she gets it from.

    Right around the time of the basement incident, we happened across a library book called “waiting out the storm.” It is a little poem about a mom reassuring her daughter during a thunderstorm. My daughter asked me to read it several times, and just today she borrowed it from the library again, so I guess she finds it comforting.

    My daughter is also just getting into the stage where she has nighmares that she remembers, etc. So maybe everything is just really vivid to her these days. Right now I’m treating it like any other “phase,” and I’ll make small accommodations such as leaving the bedroom door cracked and staying with her during the fireworks (which, are they ever going to be done with fireworks this summer?). But at the same time, I’m not going to change the routine too much, because that too would be unsettling. So we’ll see how things go from here.

    I like the idea of “tornado toys.” We don’t get harsh weather that often around here, and we always have toys in the basement, but my kids might like that idea. I am planning on buying them some cheap flashlights anyway, since they find them rather cool. Both of my kids are pretty aware of clouds and they will tell me when it looks like rain. I’m not sure how else to encourage discussions about storms, without stirring up fears.

  2. Jenny says:

    I’m not sure if I was scared of storms when I was little…but now I don’t really care for them. Thunderstorms are ok, its when the tornado warnings start popping up. They scare me, but at the same time I’m so curious that I want to see one and get pictures of it! Sound weird? Hunter is only 2 1/2 so when it thunders he just says BOOM! So far it hasn’t scared him at all. I’m always afraid that lightning will hit the house and start the house on fire. So no, I don’t really care for storms!!

  3. starlaschat says:

    I use to be afraid a little bit of thunder storms. But not really anymore. The last storm we were driving around looking for the naighbors dogs luckly the other naighbors found them. I could see the lightning. The time before that the lightning storm A huge branch impaled the our roof the sound sounded like lightning. I remember the pictures you put up once of the tornando long ago and what it did to the town. Devistating. My mother is very afraid of snakes. I am amazed that I am not as I have a handlful of my own fears.

  4. Nikki says:

    Well I had nothing like this weather here, to worry about in California. So no, storms of any kind never scared me. Then I moved here, and was stunned at the the damage that storms here can do. I do get scared, more after this year actually. I had the worst scare this year, in the 12-13 years I have lived here. I do not take them lightly. Better safe than sorry, is my way of looking at tornadoes. I do love a good thunderstorm and I LOVE rain. But the second I see or hear of a tornado warning or watch I am on edge. The night time ones scare me the most, what if we’re all sleeping? Bailey sleeps upstairs, and clear across the house. Bailey doesn’t get TOO scared. He is more brave than me. He is more calm than I am. I try to not get too crazy, because I don’t want to scare him. I do not want him to be like his father though, and go looking for them! I find it’s that way with most men. I have taught Bailey where the best place to go is, and what to do. It is a part of our life living here, so the more educated you can be is the best!

  5. Laura says:

    One thing that I really believe feeds the whole “storm terror” thing is the plethora of warnings. We get them almost daily – our NOAA radio is now set on “mute” because, literally, it was screaming at least once a day, between the flood watches, the t-storm watches, the tornado watches, and the inevitable severe storm warnings that follow. We’ve been conditioned to panic at the sight of a cloud.

    Josh got pretty panicky during the summer of Steve’s wreck – we had some really nasty storms that came through and there was one evening (for those that remember – this was the F5 that wiped out Parkersburg, IA) when there was warning after warning after warning. He spent the evening in the basement with his gp’s watching the storm coverage. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of patience to get him over that. Now we check weather sites almost daily and he’s getting really good at interpreting the RADAR. We look at the sky and identify clouds. When there is rotten weather coming, he has a few responsibilities… for example, if we do have to move to the basement, it’s his job to bring the dog and his little moose downstairs with him. He knows where to go and why, and he has his own flashlight that stays with him in his bed, just in case. (flashlights dissolve Monsters, too)

    I do think that it’s a phase thing, but its a phase that can develop into a lifelong fear. And I believe the best way to combat that fear is to face it head on and understand it. That way, when the unnatural fear washes over you, you can fight it back with, “ok, don’t panic, I know exactly what to do and where to go. I can’t control the weather, but I can control myself.”

  6. kweenmama says:

    I don’t live in an area where tornadoes are common, so I’ve never developed a fear for storms. Nor have my kids. We actually like to watch thunder storms from our front porch. We do, however, have a dog that is very frightened of storms. He cowers under my husbands desk or hides in the basement whenever a storm passes by.

  7. I’ve never experienced a summer storm, tornado or hurricane of any kind… Just the run of the mill winter storms, which where I am aren’t all that bad. Nonetheless, I was scared of thunder and lightning when I was a kid – definitely. The crack of thunder still makes me shiver if I’m in a certain kind of mood.
    I think you’re right – it’s mostly a function of growing up that cures it. It’s like most fears that children have – fear of the dark, for instance, is something that lots of people have to some degree in adulthood too, or fear of robbery and the like, but we don’t let it govern us, because we know that there’s no monster lurking in the dark and that there are bars on the window or whatnot.
    A different story entirely, of course, is when a fear becomes a phobia…

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