How To Help Kids Cope With Storm Anxiety

Monday, March 18th 2019, 10:37 am
By: News 9

Many people feel powerless during severe storms, especially children, to where sometimes even rain can make them feel nervous and scared. However, there are many ways you can ease storm anxiety.

“It was loud,” said 8-year-old Broden. “I just heard a thump, thump, thump and a tornado was there.”

Broden was at church with his dad when an EF2 tornado barreled through Claremore.

“I was shaking a little, but I was like what just happened,” he said. “I didn't really see the destruction, but I did see some trees falling down and the building had some stuff falling off.”

It's been nearly three years since the tornado hit, but behind his sweet smile there is constant fear.

“I'm really afraid, so I’m trying to get over that,” he said.

Dr. Leslie Barnes treats children with weather-related anxiety, which can stem from a personal experience with bad weather, from hearing their friends talk about storms or watching severe weather coverage on TV.

“Knowledge is power,” said Dr. Barnes. “They can have very irrational, what we call catastrophic thoughts about things. They may think exactly what you said, that they'll lose their home (that) they may lose family members.”

Experts say having a severe weather plan at home and school, and practicing it, can ease a child's fears.

“Kids learn better and remember better when they actually act something out or role-play something,” Dr. Barnes said.

For older kids who may be home alone when storms roll in, Dr. Barnes suggests having someone they can call who will answer immediately or arrange for them to go to a neighbor’s home. Boden uses books to soothe his fears and encourages other kids to do the same.

“They should study them more, so they won't be as afraid because they would know what to do better,” he said.