How to keep children calm in a storm

Storms can be frightening when the strike, especially for children. Whether a thunderstorm, tornado, or hurricane, there are several ways to help your child remain calm:

Children may become restless, hyper, disobedient, or just plain silly as storm approaches. Some scientists believe that children can sense the change in the barometric pressure, and therefore deviate from normal behavior. If you are expectant of this escalation in hyperactivity, have things planned to help redirect their energy.

Depending on the severity and speed of the approaching storm, you may want to engage your children in physical activity. Have them pretend they are a gym teacher and are leading the family in an exercise class. Who can do the most jumping jacks in a minute? Who can stand on their head the longest? With toddlers, it may be easiest to turn on a favorite song and dance the sillies away.

By engaging in physical activity, it will not only keep their mind off the approaching storm, but it will burn off some energy so that when the storm comes, the kids may be easier to handle.

When you are informed a storm is approaching, turn your preparations into an activity. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to involve them in a treasure hunt for flashlights, a battery-operated radio, blankets, snacks, books…whatever items your family has found to be essential to cope during a storm.

If a storm is not bad enough to warrant taking shelter (i.e., moving to a basement), you can probably proceed with most normal activity under a cautious eye. Just remember that children often react differently to storms than adults. A storm you feel is no big deal and will pass without little incident may still be frightening to a child.

Children may get nervous about the thunder or lightning, or they may be very interested in watching what is happening outside. Depending on the type of storm, you may choose to allow them a brief peek at the window, offering an explanation about rain and clouds and why the sky is so dark. However, be aware that children will sometimes become so interested in looking outside (especially if an adult keeps disappearing outside to watch the progression of the storm), they may be difficult to keep away from the window.

And should a storm become more severe, you will definitely want to move them to a safer area.

When a storm is more severe and requires taking shelter, take heed. If your shelter is a basement that is never visited or an outside underground area the children view as scary, your child might be hesitant to go. It helps to visit this area at other times, before you will actually need to use it, to help your child to be comfortable with these surroundings.

If you live in an area that frequently sees storms, you may want to consider having a tote of books/toys/activities ready for storms. This can be grabbed quickly when a storm is approaching and will help to calm your children during a stressful time. Perhaps a favorite blanket or stuffed animal could be packed, too. Remember to include flashlights for your kids to play with”, with plenty of extra batteries.

It is beneficial to invest in children’s videos or books about storms. This is a great way for them to find out about storms and to learn how to behave during them. It is also a great tool for parents, as you can refer to them during a storm.

If the power goes out, you can play under a blanket. Make a fort and use your flashlights to get around. If kids are old enough to read, tell them you are pretending it is the olden days, and are practicing reading without electricity; their flashlight can substitute as a candle.

Cuddling, hugging, holding, and kissing is effective ways to deal with the scariness of a storm. More than anything else, kids want to feel protected. It is perfectly acceptable to let kids know that storms are also scary for you but do so in a way where they know you are still in control. The most important part of keeping kids calm in a storm is to let them know they are protected!

Although storms are scary for children, there are several ways that adults can help to calm their fears. By learning how to prepare differently when children are involved, storms can be a little less stressful on the smallest members of your family as well as yourself!

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