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Severe Weather Guide

Storms And Kids

Stormphobia

You are not alone...

If your child has a fear of storms they are not alone. Doctor's say a certain amount of fear of storms is normal and even healthy. It's what keeps us safe.

Create and maintain a home environment which is safe, secure, and free of serious conflict.

Children from secure homes and families will be better able to tolerate any stressors, including severe weather.

Knowledge and understanding reduces fear. Begin at an early age to talk with children about weather. Educate them about storms, dispel myths, and discuss reasonable safety measures.

Develop a family weather plan. Allow children to participate in the planning. It can help them feel more in control and less helpless.

Have a NOAA weather radio at home. Children will be comforted by the presence of a warning system. This works in much the same way as a family dog helps to ease children's fears of intruders entering the home.

Make efforts to prevent young children from experiencing frightening weather events. A powerful wind storm, hail, or lightning can be extremely frightening and can contribute to the development of excessive fear.

Pay attention to your child's reaction to storms. Allow children to go to the basement or an interior room during storms, (or to stay by your side if that's what they need).

Limit your child's exposure to dramatic television footage of storms. Some video can be quite frightening.

Parents As Teachers gives the following advice for parents in times of trauma:

• Children's basic needs always remain the same, even in crises. Remember the importance of routines -- try to focus on keeping mealtimes and bedtime regular. Spend quiet time and read before bed each night to create calm.

• Turn off television and radio when young children are around. You control the information they need to have and how it is presented. Young children need to know very little about trauma and certainly do not need to hear details repeated over and over.

• Answer questions at an age-appropriate level and reassure children. What they most need to hear is that the adults around them will take care of and protect them.

• Try to stay as calm as possible around children. It is appropriate for children to see adults showing emotion, but it frightens them to see their parents losing control. If you feel very emotional, try to remove yourself briefly until you can calm down.

• Children can be very resilient, if they feel listened to, supported, and taken care of by parents and caretakers. They are not little adults. They need to be in a holding environment that fits their developmental needs, even in times of crises.

• Take care of yourself and address your own needs. This will allow you to take care of your child.

• Do not be afraid to seek help for yourself or your child, if reactions or coping become difficult to manage. These are unusual circumstances. It is normal not to have all the answers.

For more information about Parents as Teachers, or to find a parent educator near you, visit their Website at www.patnc.org