What to Do When Your Child is Afraid of Thunder?

What to Do When Your Child is Afraid of Thunder?

Thunder and Frightening: What to do when your child is afraid of thunder?

It was a night like any other, we had tucked Dyl who was about 3 and Ry who was 1 into bed and were downstairs binge watching something. The forecast for that night was thunderstorms. We had not thought much about it except for the fact that it means we did not have to water the grass tomorrow. Personally, I am a huge fan of rain. I love the sound, the drama and the reminder of nature.

The rain started, followed by a crash of thunder. We heard a scream from upstairs. At first we thought it was just a nightmare, so I went upstairs to check on him. I calmed him down; then came more thunder and another huge scream. I thought to myself “#%*&, Dyl is scared of thunder.”

Fears are a normal part of childhood development.

He had heard thunderstorms before; in fact, we had experienced much worse. For some reason, this particular storm left him absolutely terrified. The fact is, many kids around the age of 3 begin to experience fears. I see kids all the time with fears of monsters, the dark, and people in masks and costumes. Fears are a normal part of childhood development. Some kids are not afraid of anything (count yourselves lucky!) and other kids are scared about everything.

 As parents we know these fears are generally irrational, but you really can’t explain that to a screaming toddler. First things first – calm them down and soothe them. Then let them explain to you why they are scared, show them some compassion and as they explain to you why they are scared, be reassuring that nothing bad will happen.

I personally like to use distraction. With Dyl, once he had calmed down, I offered him a sound machine. I let him pick the noise he wanted to hear, and that helped him through the rest of the night. That same sound machine still lives in his closet and is pulled out from time to time in ‘emergency’ situations.

The best way to manage them as parents is to acknowledge that your child is scared and figure out a way to build your child’s confidence and give them the tools to manage and take control of their fears.

The best way to manage a child’s fears is to deal with them in a controlled environment. For Dyl, the sound machine actually had a thunderstorm function on it. Ryan once ran into Dyl’s room and reminded us of this while simultaneously sending Dyl into a screaming fest (funny yes, but not what we wanted to manage first thing in the am). So we used this to show Dylan that thunder is just a noise and even though it is loud, nothing will hurt him. We made analogies to things that he likes like music at a concert, and told him how cool thunder is. We even explained to him some of the science behind it. As a kid who wants to understand everything, that seemed to help.

The important thing to remember is that fears are a normal part of childhood. The best way to manage them as parents is to acknowledge that your child is scared and figure out a way to build your child’s confidence and give them the tools to manage and take control of their fears.

What are your kids scared of? How do you manage it?

Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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