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.
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.
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.
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!
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.