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.
Acknowledge your child’s fear. Tell your child that you understand how they feel. Refrain from ridiculing them or telling them not to be scared. Allow your child to express their feelings while reassuring them that the thunderstorm will end soon. What you could also say is that they shouldn’t feel scared as long as they are inside the home, car, or another safe area.
Do fun activities. Whenever a storm is approaching, make a habit of diverting your child’s attention 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.
Read age-appropriate, helpful books. There are children’s books about the fear of lightning storms which you 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.
Make your child a snack. Eating a favorite food can be a great way for your child to forget about a scary situation.
Explain what thunderstorms are. Learn everything you can about thunder and lightning, and pass the information to your child in a way they can understand. This way, they 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.
Teach 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. Learn more lightning safety tips here. Information about how to prepare children for emergencies can be found here.
Be patient. Almost every child will eventually overcome their fears as they get older. While you shouldn’t expect for your child to get rid of their fear in a matter of days, you can be supportive and comfort them every time they get scared. Fear and anxiety will diminish gradually, over time.
You can always get creative and find other ways to lessen your child’s fear during thunderstorms. Play musical instruments, sing cheerful songs and even make up stories about the noises they hear. Children love fun activities. If nothing works, it’s best to talk to a child psychologist with experience in treating child anxiety.
*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.