We have had some strong thunderstorms here in Rockport lately. The storm last night was particularly dramatic. I love watching thunderstorms and am always amazed at the strength and beauty of God’s world. I find storms exciting and calming at the same time. However, I haven’t always felt that way.
When I was a young child, the noise and flashing light frightened me. Is there a child in your family who is afraid of storms? Astraphobia, the fear of thunderstorms, is very common in young children who are just beginning to understand the world around them. It can persist beyond early childhood and become a true phobia. If you have a child who needs some help dealing with astraphobia, here are some tips.
First, acknowledge your child’s feelings. Instead of saying, “Don’t be silly. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” let him know that you understand that he is afraid. Tell him that even grownups feel afraid sometimes.
Next, comfort her. Invite her to sit and cuddle with you and reassure her that she is safe. This might be a good time to pray together and thank God for watching over your family and keeping you all safe.
Read factual books about thunderstorms. Helping your child understand the science of storms can relieve his fear of the unknown. Rumble, Boom by Rick Thomas and Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll by Franklin M. Branley are a couple of good choices.
Read picture books about other people who are afraid of thunderstorms. There are some excellent children’s books on the topic. A few of my favorites are Boom by Mary Lynn Ray, Thundercakes by Patricia Pollaco and Franklin and The Thunderstorm by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark.
Make it fun. Some families use stormy nights as a fun time to “camp out” in the living room. Bring out the flashlights and snacks and have an indoor picnic. Sing campfire songs and tell stories. My grandmother taught me to love thunderstorms when I was about four years old. Her house had a tin roof and a big, wide covered front porch. When a storm was brewing, Granny would invite me to join her on the porch swing. We would swing and snuggle and talk about the wind and the rain and the thunder and lightning. Granny was a member of a bowling league and she took me with her to her games, so I was familiar with bowling sounds and terminology. As we sat in the swing watching the storm, she made up stories for me about elves who lived in the clouds. The elves enjoyed bowling! When there was a long roll of thunder, that was the sound of the elves bowling balls rolling along the alley. And when there was a big clap of thunder, it just meant that an elf had made a strike! Before long, my fears turned to giggles and I couldn’t wait til the next storm and more stories about the elves. Every thunderstorm takes me back in time to that wonderful front porch swing and the safety of my grandmother’s love.
Turn off the Weather Reports. While you might be interested in following news of the storm, constant updates can be frightening to kids. Turn off the TV and radio and put on some good music instead.
Hope these tips help you and your family enjoy the amazing light shows that God has been putting on for us lately! In the meantime, I love hearing from you about your ideas and challenges with the young children in your life. Let me know what topics you would like to read more about in the coming weeks.