What works for 5 year olds thunderstorm anxiety?

Kate - posted on 06/17/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )

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My 5 year old has recently started having high anxiety before thunderstorms. When she notices there are clouds and the wind picks up, but not raining yet, she immediately wants to go inside. She starts wringing her hands, crying, and constantly asking when is the rain going to get here and when is it going to leave. Last night at my sister in laws house there were some darker clouds rolling in, it was starting to get windy, but not too bad. She started crying, jumping up and down and said that everyone had to go inside right now because the storm was coming. I took her inside and sat her down talked calmly to her, asked her what was making her scared, tried distracting her by talking about other things/ doing other things. When I told her I wanted to go outside to tell daddy something she freaked out! I told her mommy wouldn't be going outside if it was raining and that everyone would have come inside if it was. She is going to kindergarten in the fall and I'm worried that when there is a thunderstorm while she is at school she will have a meltdown. I don't know what else to do. It breaks my heart to watch her when she is like this!
Thank you in advance for any advice.

BTW, when the rain finally arrived, about 90 minutes later, she was fine. Happy, laughing, and playing with her cousins.

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Robin - posted on 06/17/2012

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My first thought is to find a time when it is sunny and beautiful out and she is happy. Maybe make a little picnic, complete with a little blankie to spread out. After a snack and some happy talk ask your little one to make pictures out of the clouds. See what you can find together.

While gazing at the big, white fluffy clouds simply ask her what kinds of clouds are beautiful, happy, sad, scary, etc. Try to seem interested but not TOO interested. See what she has to tell you. It may be something as simple as a commercial for insurance or a news story some other something that makes her think that her whole world will come apart during a thunderstorm.

Remember that she is young and some silly something she has seen - even a cartoon can give her "information" that is highly inaccurate, yet she believes is absolute fact.

If this method proves unproductive - try distracting her the next time dark clouds approach by asking her what each cloud might be "saying" to another cloud - this may bring out some information that will assist you in helping her deal with her fears.

Most of all - let her know that you "hear" her. Repeat her fears back to her - "I see that you are afraid and worried." and tell her that when you were just her age you were afraid too - but as you got to be a "big girl" you saw that nothing bad happened and now you love to hear the patter of the rain that the scary clouds bring dancing on the roof.

As for school, as soon as possible - let her teacher know how fearful she is. It make take a couple of dark days of her seeing the other children behaving "normally" and she may follow suit.

Good luck to you and to her. And if all else fails.....hugs always help :)

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