Spring in the Midwest is synonymous with unpredictable weather, particularly popup storms. While a downpour can be a delight to thirsty yards and growing gardens, it can also strike fear into our little ones, who don’t quite know what to make of bold thunder and flashes of lightning. Thankfully, two of Parkview’s child life specialists, Colleen Banta and Molly Gerke, are here to share some helpful ways to weather the storm and soothe worried minds.
When it comes to fears, parents should acknowledge their child’s concerns, while also making them feel safe. One thing we do as child life specialists is try to help children cope using distraction and imagination. A parent might use an analogy to help a child imagine the loud thunder noise as being something like people dancing and having a party on a wood floor or bowling. Then ask them, “What do you think it sounds like?” This can help them relate the sights and sounds to something less threatening. It might also help to let them know that when you were young like them you felt the same way, but when you understood that you were safe, then you were OK.
Books can be a great way to connect and soothe your little one as well. When choosing books to help with a particular fear, it is important to choose titles that get the senses involved so the child is more engaged. You’ll also want a story where the plot focuses on the positive.
“Tap Tap Boom Boom” by Elizabeth Bluemle
This book uses rhythm and noises to get kids involved and a happy ending.
“The Preschool Professors Learn About Thunderstorms” by Dr. Karen Bale
“Rumble, Boom!: A Book About Thunderstorms” by Rick Thomas
These books help kids understand why thunderstorms happen. Sometimes the simple unknown is the root of the fear.
Another option is interactive activities. The website rookieparenting.com has a great hands-on experiment to utilize visualization for why thunderstorms happen and what causes them.