When your area is experiencing severe storms, your child can feel frightened and confused. Although every child is different, there are some ways you can help your child cope with anxiety caused by severe weather.
Model calm behavior
If your child sees that you are able to react to severe weather in a calm manner, they will feel reassured. Ensure that your child sees you making plans in a composed manner, and review your family’s storm safety precautions with everyone. It’s okay if your child sees that you’re concerned, but explain your feelings in age-appropriate language for your child, and remain in control.
Communicate and answer questions
Your child will likely have many questions about the storm, and it’s important for them to know that you will listen and empathize with them. Encourage your child to talk to you about how they feel, and answer any questions as well as you can. Be truthful, but focus on alleviating your child’s immediate fears.
Get your child involved with safety precautions
Children learn through hands-on experience, and having them help you prepare for severe weather can give them a sense of control. Your child can help you stock a storm safety kit with flashlights, batteries, blankets, and a radio. They can also let you know what they will need in order to feel comforted, such as a favorite stuffed animal or book.
Limit your child’s news exposure
Repeated news reports and images of storms can cause increased fear and anxiety in your child. Younger children may also not understand the timeline of these images, and may believe that a storm is bigger than it is. If you do tune in for an update, keep it brief, and be available in case your child has any questions about what they’ve seen.
After the storm, keep positive
A child’s anxiety over storms can continue after the worst has passed, particularly if your region has experienced severe effects such as flooding or evacuation. To help your child cope, it can help to do something positive such as selecting clothes to donate to other children in need. It’s also important to maintain your regular routine as much as possible, continue to limit news exposure, and spend time together as a family.
If your child’s anxiety symptoms have not decreased after six months, or are impacting their daily life, you may want to speak with an anxiety disorder therapist.
Anxiety and fear caused by severe weather can be especially difficult for young children to cope with. However, by modeling calm behavior, encouraging communication, getting your child involved in preparations, and limiting news exposure, you can help to reduce their fear of storms.