A little scary but not too scary
Thunderstorms are in the forecast and many children are frightened by the weather. After last year's tornado, we asked Sharon Peters of local non-profit, Parents Helping Parents for her suggestions about how to help kids not to be so scared. The advice is as good today as it was then.
Thunderstorms.... they can be loud and scary, especially the storm that landed in Park Slope yesterday. Here are some things that might be helpful to keep in mind.
While a storm is happening parents should think about safety and watch their children for cues to see what might be helpful. If little ones are excited about a storm Moms and Dads get to be excited too as long as safety concerns are taken into consideration. If children are overwhelmed or scared by a storm parents can offer reassurance by sharing information and answering their questions. (Of course younger children usually benefit more from brief, concise answers). If a child is anxious it can be good to find a place where everyone can see or hear what is going on but still feel protected and safe.
After a "scary" storm it is often useful to take time to create a calm environment for children (and parents) to go over what they heard and saw. Again answering children's questions can be very helpful. If possible slow things down to the child's pace as rushing around "NY style" often exacerbates stress.
Yesterday after the storm I saw a Dad walking his children around to look at the fallen trees. They were pulling him here and there asking him questions and thinking over what had happened. He was relaxed and letting them decide where to go next. It seemed like a helpful idea to everyone.
It is also helpful to remind children that storms like yesterday's don't happen very often and that there are things people know how to do to make them safe.
Sharon C. Peters