Tornado fears are not unfounded, and children need the opportunity to talk about what they are and what you should do in the event one is near you.
Plenty of children (and adults) worry about those terrible twisters that can strike during extreme weather changes and it’s often hard to know what to say to your little ones to comfort them.
“When tornado sirens go off I grab my kids and we hunker down in our downstairs bathroom,” says Shelly Brooks of Nashville. “But after seeing what happened in Oklahoma, I think that’s just a bandaid on a situation. I don’t think we’re really safe in there anymore.”
So what do you tell your fretful family? Plenty of folks don’t have a storm shelter or basement.
“Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions,” says Dr. David Fassler, a spokesman for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
“Children will usually know if you’re making things up, and that may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future,” he says, so be sure you are as honest as possible without causing undue stress.
You can try limiting internet and TV to avoid images of a tornado’s aftermath, but with TVs everywhere you can’t always shield them from the truth. Experts say the worst thing you can do is tell your kids there’s no need to be afraid or that a tornado will never occur near you.
Tornado Tips with Kids
• Tell your kids you will always do everything you can to keep them safe — and that wherever they go people will want to help them with their safety, too.
• Sit down as a family and talk about what you should do in the event of an emergency.
• Help your child express himself by listening to his concerns, even if he repeats them over and over again. It’s important that he gets his feelings and thoughts out into the open. If your child’s not much of a talker, give him crayons and let him draw to express himself.
• If your child is unusually anxious and has trouble sleeping or has developed a physical reaction to dangerous situations, contact your pediatrician for help.