6 Ways To Help Calm Your Child’s Fear Of Thunderstorms

 

I'll never forget that day.  I was pretty young, with my dad, in Indiana.  We were at a wedding, although I have no idea whose wedding it was.  I just remember it was an outdoor celebration.  Or at least it was until the tornado sirens started blaring.   I recall watching the dark sky above, my heart beating fast with fear, and seeing people running for shelter into a nearby basement.

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That vivid memory burned into my mind and left me with a nasty fear of severe weather, particularly thunderstorms and tornadoes.  Thankfully, living in Southern California, severe weather wasn't really an issue, as we got maybe one mild thunderstorm a year.

Okay, well there was that one random day when I was driving home from work and watched the line of cars in front of me on the highway come to a sudden stop as a tornado in a nearby field crossed the road.  That was a pretty freaky and bizarre moment.  I'll admit I put the pedal to the medal to get home once the traffic started moving again.

Then we moved to Western Pennsylvania.  The past two and a half years, I've been thrown into the world of severe weather, and have discovered a healthy appreciation for how quickly the weather can and does change.  Never before have I had to monitor the weather predictions with the frequency of which I do since we've moved here.

My daughters were never really frightened of thunderstorms until this past summer when we found ourselves caught in one outdoors.  We were only 4 miles away from home at a nearby beach.  There were clouds forming off in the distance and we could hear thunder but it was so muffled that we didn't think it was very close by.

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Moments later I saw the sky light up, and immediately put an end to our beach fun, hustling the girls into the car for the drive home.  At the same time, my husband was frantically calling to tell me to get home because there was a major thunderstorm rolling in with cloud to ground lightning strikes, high winds, hail, and heavy rain.

We drove right into the storm.  The girls were in tears as they watched the lightning strikes all around our car, lighting up the sky every few seconds followed by that loud crack of thunder that nearly courses right through your body.

I was silently praying for God to get us home safely - and indoors without a problem.  We don't have a garage and therefore have to park our car a good distance from the entrance to our house.  My husband being my hero, ran outside to meet us and ran with one of our daughters into the house while I ran carrying the little one.

Once inside safely we realized we were soaked from head to toe, shivering, and all of us girls were crying.  Myself included.  There's something that happens inside a parent when they're worried about the safety of their children.  The emotion shook me to the core.  I was so grateful to have gotten them inside safely.

I have since had to come to grips with my fear of these massive storms because I know I need to be strong for my daughters.  When we are home, just the three of us, and a storm hits they need to feel safe and comforted.  If I'm scared, how will I calm their fears?

Here's a list of ways to help your child (and yourself) overcome the fear of thunderstorms:

What Is A Thunderstorm?

It helps to understand what a thunderstorm is.  When you start to hear thunder rumble in the distance, gather your children around for a quick Science lesson.  You can get all sorts of fascinating information about thunderstorms by doing a search in Google or by clicking here.  Turn the impending storm into an adventure of sorts, as you study and observe it rather than fearing it.

Discuss Safety Measures

We don't want to add additional fear to our children, but it is wise to discuss safety measures for when these storms do arrive.  Or for those times when your family happens to be separated due to various activities going on outside of the home.  Our children need to be aware of the real threat of lightning, high winds, and tornadoes.  What should they do if outdoors?  Where should they go?  Is there a family meeting point for these situations?  What if they're home alone?  Or babysitting other children?

Encourage Them To Find The Beauty In The Storm

Last night I went to bed during a thunderstorm.  We have two windows in our bedroom and the blinds were open in both of them.  I watched in awe as the night sky lit up with every strike of lightning.  It was beautiful.  God has a way of putting on an amazing show for us, if we take the time to see it for the beauty that it is.  His creation is amazing!  We need to share that awareness with our children and encourage them to see the beauty in the storm as well.

Read Books About Thunderstorms

I've found when it comes to things they're afraid of, my daughters respond really well to children's books that tell stories around those fears.  If you do an Amazon search, you can find lots of books to choose from that tell stories about thunderstorms.  See here.  Stock up on a few and pull them out for some reading next time you find your children frightened during a storm.

Pray Together

God is so good at easing our fears and pouring His peace over us when we need it the most.  When your kids start to get nervous about the oncoming storm and all the noise it's making, stop what you're doing and join together in prayer.  Pray for God to protect your family and your home. Pray for Him to calm everyone's fears.  Pray for Him to show your children how beautiful the storm can be when seen through trusting eyes.

Snuggle Up For A Movie

Assuming you haven't lost power, snuggling up for a family favorite movie is always a nice distraction.  Although it's probably a good idea to avoid watching the movie Twister, unless you have tweens or older. They'd probably love it!  icon smile 6 Ways To Help Calm Your Childs Fear Of Thunderstorms

 

Remember, the more severe the storm is, the quicker they tend to be moving, which means it will be here and gone before you realize it.

 

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 6 Ways To Help Calm Your Childs Fear Of Thunderstorms
Rosann is wife to the man of her dreams and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. Her heart's greatest passions are loving her family well, long-distance running, writing, and pretty much anything dark chocolate peanut butter. Rosann loves to encourage women whose husbands are in a season of unemployment, at her other website UnEmployedFaith.com. Her writing inspiration comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith. She is also the Author of two books - UnEmployed Faith: Clothing Yourself in Strength and Perseverance Through his Season of Unemployment, and Refuel Your Inner SuperMom: A Practical Guide to Getting Your Groove Back.
 6 Ways To Help Calm Your Childs Fear Of Thunderstorms

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36 Comments

  1. TyKes Mom

    I love the tip on encouraging them to find beauty in the storm! It truly is amazing! My son used to be terrified of thunderstorms but now he gets excited to watch the lightning. And so do I!

    • Rosann

      My husband actually convinced me to stop and take it all in one night when I was freaking out. Ever since then I've had a much different appreciation for them...unless I hear the wind throwing our trash cans around the back yard. Then I get a little bit uneasy about it all. Lol!

  2. Cookie's Mom

    I love this post! I have never really been afraid of thunderstorms, but I have had some scares driving in them. Still to this day, I love experiencing them. I live in a house with a 180 degree view of the sky and I LOVE seeing storms roll in. It's amazing to experiencing Mother Nature in all of her glory!

    Visiting from the vB Hodgepodge event. :)

    • Rosann

      How wonderful that you live in a house that shows so much of the sky. I think that would be amazing to watch a thunderstorm in!! And all the sunshine during the day too! :)

  3. Pam

    I love the idea of reading Thunderstorm books and praying. Great article!

    Pam

    • Rosann

      Thanks Pam!

  4. Perspective Parenting

    This is not only an EXCELLENT how to on calming fears from thunderstorms, but just about anything they are fearful of. The more information you give them, the more they know, the more powerful they become. Every one of the steps is perfect. Learn, Understand, See the Good, Have Faith and Grow. Well done Roseann!

    • Rosann

      Thanks Lynn! I appreciate your compliment. :)

  5. Tara - BePreparedPeriod.com

    I think that would be enough to shake anyone up. Good for you for finding ways to get through the fear! What great lessons you are teaching your kids. :)

    • Rosann

      Thanks Tara!

  6. Crazed in the Kitchen

    I love this! I grew up in the Chicago area and was never scared of thunderstorms unless the tornado sirens went off. Now that I've been living in Southern California for 11 years, I get very freaked out by storms when I visit the midwest--and my kids do, too. This post gave me some great ideas for dealing with my, er THEIR, fears! ;)

    • Rosann

      Lol! Thanks for helping me not feel so silly being a grown up with a fear of thunderstorms! :)

  7. Sarah

    Great post! Recently we were close to a VERY severe storm in Kansas. There was a tornado warning in our county, but not in our town, therefore no tornado sirens went off.

    It was a bit hard, as my husband and I were on an adrenaline rush trying to figure out how to set up our basement for us to hang out down there. Even though the sirens weren't sounding, the storm could turn at any moment as it was literally RIGHT below our little town. With the storm came a realization on how we needed to get our basement in order for a 1 year old and 3 year old. ;)

    It's always good to be somewhat prepared. SO I now have a Bible awaiting us down there, some diapers and wipes,blankets and soon we will be putting a few water jugs down there.

    It was so wonderful that my husband had his guitar and I had my electric piano. We played and the boys calmed and we just had fun. haha ;)

    I do have to say, since kids, my fear has heightened with storms. I am really not sure why. Not fond of living in tornado country. ;)

    • Rosann

      Thanks Sarah! I have to give you props for living in the heart of tornado country. Of course, people use to say that to me when I lived in earthquake country. Lol! I'm grateful to be at least off to the East of the tornadoes, but we have still gotten many tornado watches and have heard the warning sirens blare at least once per Spring/Summer since we moved here. Thankfully the closest tornado that actually touched down and caused damage was about an hour or so away from us, but that's still too close for comfort. Our basement is unfinished, dark, cold, scary... so last year I stalked a storage bin with water, diapers (which we don't need now), snacks, toilet paper, blankets, and change of clothing for the kids. I need to go restock it with fresh stuff though for the storms that are starting to power up in the coming weeks. We have T-storms predicted for this evening too. You mention having a Bible down there. I can't believe I never thought of that. Thank you!! And don't feel bad about having a heightened fear since having kids. That is my greatest anxiety with the storms that roll through. I worry so much about keeping my children safe and calm.

  8. Real Army of Moms

    One of the things we used to do when I was young and we were scared in a storm was sing praise songs. I live in SO Cal now and we don't really have storms like those of my youth but your story reminded me of those times. Thanks

    • Rosann

      What a wonderful suggestion! Singing songs of praise and listening to worship music is a great way to distract everyone from the noise and ruckus going on outside. Thank you for your awesome comment! :)

  9. Kristie @ Family Scrapbooks and Coffee

    Great post! The information in it is very helpful as we will be rolling into our thunderstorm season shortly here in NJ. Also enjoying reading the comments from your readers -- each bit will help us get through the storms with my oldest dd who hates storms! Thank you for sharing your story too!

    Have a great weekend!
    Kristie VB

    • Rosann

      Thanks Kristie! :) Glad you liked this one.

    • Rosann

      Thanks Kristie! I'm glad you found this post to be helpful. :)

  10. Becky

    Thank you for these great tips! My kiddos, especially the oldest, is terrified of storms. Naptime is just about over and there's a storm on its way to us! We'll talk about these things.

    • Rosann

      You're welcome! :)

  11. Sharon

    Ooh...that started off like a book or something!
    I like to tell the kids to count in between lighting and thunder, and then wait to see if a tree crashes thru the window and grabs them during a tornado :)

    • Rosann

      Ya think so, Sharon? I'm working on my writing skills. Lol!

  12. Deb

    My daughter(age 5) is afraid of thunderstorms. It started in school when the teachers talked about tornadoes and they had to do safety drills at school.

    Thanks for this post - I will file this away in my head and try to help her. I have tried to keep light about it and explain how it's the noise of the clouds etc... Everytime it storms she is worried about a tornado coming.

    And it didn't help when I got home the other day and hubs was in the living room watching Twister, with the kids in there watching it with him!

    • Rosann

      Deb, I'm glad you find this post helpful. I love the movie Twister. But I'm not sure I want my kids to see it, especially given where we live. Ha!

  13. Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club

    We get pretty severe thunderstorms here during our Desert Monsoon season, but we all just relish this time of year, and love to sit and watch them on the porch, because it brings us the rain we so desperately need. A thunderstorm is something we want to come closer, and we count the seconds from the light flashing to the booming sound, to know if we might get lucky for it to come our way.

    It's just a different way of looking at it, but I have been driving through one, where I could not see at all in front of me, even to pull over, and didn't know if the person behind me could see me to stop. That was really scary.

    • Rosann

      Wow, Courtney! I don't like driving in severe weather at all. I will if I have to, but if I don't have to I'm perfectly happy snuggling up inside until the weather passes. Lol!

  14. momto8blog

    thank you for these ideas and suggestions!

    • Rosann

      You're welcome! Thank you for your visit. :)

  15. Michelle W

    I came across your blog when I googled "How to help your child with a fear of thunderstorms".
    I read a lot of articles and blogs and advice in forums, and I really appreciated your suggestions. Great advice!

    • Rosann

      Michelle, I'm so glad you clicked over to check out the article. I hope you'll come visit again. :) Thank you for your very kind words.

      Blessings,
      ~Rosann

  16. KATHY

    My son was outside during a bad storm. A few block away from the sitters house talking a walk with her husband. He heard the torando Sierns and now he is afraid to play outside, even when it is nice out. He has always loved outside tball and playing. Now he is so anxious and scared. Talks about toranodoes all the time. Sneaks in other rooms to watch weather chanel. Do you have any other suggestions other than the great ones above to help him overcome these fears. Iy breaks my heart to see him so scared and not able to enjoy life.

    • Rosann

      Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear that your son has been traumatized by this horrible storm. I can't say that I blame him. I'll never forget my first tornado experience. I still get a knot in my stomach when the sirens go off here. I wish I had some great words of wisdom for you on how to deal with his overwhelming fear. A few ideas that come to mind are, 1) get him into some counseling with a professional that understands and is good with working through these issues with kids. 2) Try talking through worst case scenarios with him. What's the worst that could happen if a tornado hit? Is he afraid of death? Then talk about death and try to overcome those fears first. I have a post about that subject on this site. Here's the link: http://christiansupermom.com/talking-child-death-suffering 3) Maybe try making weather an adventure for him. In other words, play games together in each season of weather so he has something fun to look forward to. For example, when it rains, go outside with him and run through the rain, splash in the puddles, get soaked and laugh together. Obviously you can't do that in a thunderstorm for safety reasons, but find something you can indoors to make the storm fun...like build a tent in the basement and sit inside the tent playing cards or reading books together by flashlight. I don't know, just something fun, you know? Something to take his mind off the storm, while still feeling safe. I hope that helps some. :)

  17. Christina Stewart

    So glad I came upon your blog! My 6 year old is terrified of thunder and lightening and will not want to go to bed if a storm is going on. I am currently trying to find ways to calm her before a storm/during so she avoids waking her siblings up. Love your ideas and will try them!

    • Rosann

      Christina, thank you for your lovely comment. I'm glad you stumbled across my blog too! I hope these ideas are helpful for you and your little one. :)

  18. Johnny Mullens

    One idea to help with astraphobia or brontophobia, the fear of thunderstorms, is to use this formula to learn the distance the storm is from you. After you see a flash of lightning, count the number of seconds until you hear the thunder (Use the stop watch or count "One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi," etc.). For every 5 seconds the storm is one mile away. Divide the number of seconds you count by 5 to get the number of miles.

    Another idea is for a parent to help their child build a thunderstorm. Here is a link to a website that give instructions to build a thunderstorm:

    http://www.weatherwizkids.com/experiments-make-thunderstorm.htm

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