This article, entitled "Prepare your kids for severe weather," comes from MomsEveryday contributor Erin Ferris.
A few weeks ago, one of my daughter’s best friends, Kate – an energetic, independent five-and-a-half year old who had bounded enthusiastically out the door every morning since the first day of school – suddenly wanted to stay home. With tears in her eyes, Kate begged to spend the day with her mama instead of in her classroom.
After ruling out a variety of other reasons for the tears, Kate’s mom realized that Kate’s school had held a tornado drill the previous Friday. Kate, a notorious “weather worrier”, was scared about thunderstorms and tornadoes at school.
Kate is not alone: fear of severe weather affects many children at one time or another. If your child or a child you know suddenly seems fearful of tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes, either after an actual severe weather experience or after a school drill, here are a few suggestions to help them work through their fears.
Start early. Begin talking about severe weather before it strikes, when you’re calm and your children are calm.
Listen. Allow children to share their worries – whenever and however often they need to do so – and don’t brush off their fears. Answer their questions honestly but sensitively. Consider sharing (keeping in mind the children’s ages and maturity levels) your own fears, but always remind kids that even when you’re afraid you’ll do your best to keep them safe.
Educate. Read books and use internet resources to teach kids more about severe weather. How do “watches” and “warnings” differ? What conditions contribute to the formation of tornadoes? Which kinds of weather affect certain regions of the country? Knowledge is power, and most children feel more confident and less scared with a basic understanding of severe weather under their belts.
Be prepared. Let your children help you build or restock your first aid and disaster preparedness kits. Involve them in creating your emergency preparedness plan and then practice that plan frequently. Teach them the basics of first aid, and if they’re old enough, enroll them in a CPR or first aid course.
The fear of severe weather is completely normal – and almost to be expected – in children. After all, the unpredictable paths and inconsistent damage of storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes threaten children’s usual assumption of safety. But with a little intervention, adults can lessen these fears and pave the way for improved preparedness across the board.