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7-Year-Old Traumatized by Storms

Question:

My daughter is a bright 7-year-old, but she has a strange habit of barricading the doors and crying uncontrollably when it is raining and thundering outside and is dark. My mother says she was probably scared as a baby. Should I bring my daughter to a psychiatrist?

Answer:

Before you make an appointment with a psychiatrist, think about talking to her pediatrician first if you have not done so already. There may be oversensitivity with her hearing. She may also be more willing to open up with her doctor and confide in him or her about what is scaring her. If the pediatrician is stumped, ask him or her to recommend a therapist or psychologist who works with children.

Have you asked her what scares her? When she barricades the door, what does she think will come in? Is she afraid the dark might come in? Why is she afraid that the outside will get a “shower” when it rains like she does when she bathes? Usually when children are afraid of the dark, a simple night light will help.

Explanations of the noise thunder makes can ease anxiety. If you know a storm is coming, review with her these explanations and remind her of all the ways she is safe. When she sees lightning and hears thunder, talk about why they are occurring. Turn the storm into a learning experience rather than a traumatic one. 

Have these discussions on sunny days, not when it is storming and she is crying.  Typically, 7-year-olds are able to express their emotions and process the reasons why they have them.
 

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