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Soothing Children when Wicked Weather Strikes

Lots of kids are scared by storms.  

The noises and flashes, the sense of no control, of being powerless, can create high anxiety. Your children may get emotional or withdrawn, depending on how they cope with fear and uncertainty. Conversely, they may become hyper-excited. They may want to stand by the window to watch Mother Nature’s fury or incessantly talk about how the hail and wind will pummel and pulverize their swing set or treehouse. You may even have children who individually respond in completely dissimilar ways.

When violent weather threatens — sirens are blaring and your family is taking shelter in a basement or safe room — how can you prevent all-out panic while waiting for the storm to pass?

Books, games and songs are quite effective at distracting children from obsessing over what’s going on outside. If you forget to grab a storybook before heading to the basement or safe space, have your kids take turns retelling the story. Or ask them to makeup new stories to share. Play charades, ask trivia questions or sing songs. You can even ask your kids what they’d like to do to feel better. The more you can refocus their thoughts away from what’s happening outside, the fewer meltdowns and freak-outs you’ll see.  

It’s also important to offer your children as much reassurance as you can. Remind them that they are in the family’s “safe” space. Redirect them when their words or thoughts turn back to the storm. Remember, your children learn by experiencing and watching, so they will learn how to cope with stress and anxiety simply by seeing how you respond.

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