As children begin to understand the world, many of them develop irrational fears, such as the fear of thunderstorms, also known as Astraphobia. Although the fear of thunder and lightning is normal in the development of a child, they should receive emotional comfort to feel better during thunderstorms. Here are several ways to help calm children when a thunderstorm occurs:
- Acknowledging the child’s fear. Parents should tell their child that they understand how they feel, instead of ridiculing them or telling them not to be scared. Parents should also allow the child to express their feelings while reassuring them that the thunderstorm will end soon. Children should also be told that, as long as they are inside the home, car, or another safe area, they will be safe.
- Doing fun activities. Whenever a storm is approaching, the child’s attention should be diverted towards fun activities. Listening to calming music, watching their favorite movie or playing games are all engaging activities that can help children forget about the noise.
- Reading age-appropriate, helpful books. There are children’s books about the fear of lightning storms which parents and kids could read together. Books like these provide a helpful message that help children cope with the fear, but they also provide a distraction from the thunderstorm outside.
- Giving them snacks. Just as sight or hearing can help distract us from something, so too tasting our favorite food can be a great way to forget about a bad situation.
- Explaining what thunderstorms are. Parents can learn everything they can about thunder and lightning and pass the information to their child in a way they can understand. This way, kids might realize that thunder and lightning are natural phenomena that present no threat, unless you are a very unlucky person who stays out in the open during thunderstorms.
- Teaching them thunderstorm safety. Knowing how to stay safe when a storm strikes may help children relax and boost their confidence. Basic things they should know include: staying indoors and avoiding trees as well as bodies of water. More lightning safety tips are available here. Information about how to prepare children for emergencies can be found here.
- Being patient with them. Almost every child will eventually overcome their fears as they get older. While parents shouldn’t expect their child to get rid of their fear in a matter of days, they can be supportive and comfort their children every time they get scared. Fear and anxiety will diminish gradually, over time.
Parents can always get creative and find other ways to lessen their child’s fear during thunderstorms. Playing musical instruments, singing cheerful songs and even making up stories about the noises they hear are all helpful activities. If nothing works, it’s best to talk to a child psychologist with experience in treating child anxiety.
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