I grew up terrified of severe weather. It was a deep-seated fear that my house was going to blow away (we lived in a mobile home). Eventually, I grew out of that fear. I don’t remember how and I don’t honestly remember what my Mom did or said to peel me off the ceiling every time a summer storm hit. However, there are some great strategies for talking to your kids about severe weather.
Severe weather, especially in the Gulf Coast states, is a fact of life; a big, nasty, scary fact of life. Many people keep watch for the next storm system, all while remembering how bad things were in 2011. I didn’t grow up in a Gulf Coast state, I’m a Michigander; but I grew up terrified of severe weather. It was a deep-seated fear that my house was going to blow away (we lived in a mobile home). Eventually, I grew out of that fear. I don’t remember how and I don’t honestly remember what my Mom did or said to peel me off the ceiling every time a summer storm hit. However, there are some great strategies for talking to your kids about severe weather.
Some parents, like Kylie McBrayer, use sound machines to help calm children too young to understand explanations. As she put it, “It works wonders with the baby, we just put it on and he sleeps right through it.”
Some kids, like 7-year-old Hayden Hill are just really laidback about the whole thing. Hayden said, “I just stay on the couch; I don’t really do anything, I just snuggle up in a blanket and stay on the couch.” Hayden, I salute you! At 13, I was packing a bag every time the weather report said “thunderstorms.”
One cool Grandma, Karen Atkins, changes fear into fun by making storms a family game night. “We would always tell the children that the lightning and thundering was coming from God, the thunder was him bowling and the lightning was him sending down lights to keep us safe.”
Mental health professionals say calming and coping strategies like these help ease the anxiety, stress and fear that severe weather often brings out in children.
Licensed Professional Counselor at Samaritan Counseling Center, Rebecca Morris said, “You have to have a plan to keep your children safe, and the more you prepare for that ahead of time where you let them know when this happens or this type of weather comes this is what we’ll be doing.”
She said that the key is to normalize the reality that storms happen and to set a good example. “Kids cue off of us so it’s so important for the parents to present a calm and focused approach; even if you’re a little nervous yourself, you don’t need to project panic to your children.”
If you live in a severe weather prone area, the experts agree that beginning conversations about severe weather at an early age and educating your kids about it will help them feel less threatened and concerned. It’s a case where knowledge truly is power, even when Mother Nature knocks out the power.