• Fear that another tornado will occur
• Fear of going to school if the tornado occurred during school hours
• Stomachache, headache
• Being clingy
• Nightmares or sleep problems
• Wanting to sleep in parents’ room
• Believing folklore as to the cause of the tornado
What to do during a storm with your child:
• Be calm yourself. children pick up on adult anxiety.
• Enlist help from your child. Gather flash lights, check batteries, close windows, bring pets indoors, and bring snacks and pillows into the safe room, etc.
• Discuss what happens during a tornado or storm. The fear of the unknown will remain a fear until it’s replaced with knowledge. Children are well equipped to manage their fears when they understand the object of their fear. Instead of discussing the damage caused by tornados or storms, talk about what you can do during the storm to stay safe – such as going indoors, not standing under a tree while it’s lightning. Or count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing the thunder.
After the fact:
• Don’t belittle the fear. Saying, “There’s nothing to worry about,” actually makes your child feel more anxiety.
• Talk about the fear using questions. Ask, “What do you think will happen if it thunders or if a tornado comes? What will we do if we think a tornado is coming? Where will we go in the house if a storm is coming?”
• Kids have great imaginations which actually boosts their fear. Teach your child to self-soothe (this will help him in other aspects of his life). Help him to relax by taking deep breathes and visualizing something he enjoys doing.
• Use art. Younger children may not be able to articulate their fear but can draw pictures about it.
• Keep regular schedules for activities such as eating, playing and going to bed to help restore a sense of security -even if your family has been relocated to a shelter or other temporary housing.