At the flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder, some kids dive for cover. Some of the fear of storms and thunder often stems from a lack of understanding of why the loud noises occur, according to the KidsHealth website. With a simple science lesson, you can alleviate some of your child’s anxiety regarding thunder so he can relax a little.
Calm your child by telling her that everyone feels frightened or afraid of something sometimes. You might even share details of something you were afraid of when you were a child. You might say, “When I was a little girl, I was afraid of putting my face in the water. You’re not afraid of that, are you? You swim like a fish! Eventually, I learned how to splash in the water and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
Read about thunder and storms using engaging books, suggests the Purdue University Extension. Try reading “Thunder Cake,” by Patricia Polacco, or “Rumble, Thumble Boom!” by Anna Grossnickle Hines.
Explain the basics of thunder to your child to help him understand why the big noises happen. A simple explanation might be, “When lightning cuts through the air, it’s very hot. The heat of the lightning makes the air hot, which makes the loud noise of thunder.”
Teach your child how to stay safe during storms, advises KidsHealth. Tell your child that indoors is safest whenever thunder storms hit. Explain that people should not be outdoors, in the water or standing under a tree during thunder storms. Reassure your child that as long as he’s indoors during thunder, he should be safe.
Reassure your child if she still feels anxious and fearful, even indoors. Tell your child that she should always come find you if she’s afraid, and you will comfort her. Mention that you can snuggle up together on the couch or in bed to listen to the thunder together. Tell your child that thunderstorms generally don’t last too long because the wind blows them over relatively quickly.
Show your child how to count the seconds between lightning flashes and thunder booms, suggests assistant professor Novella J. Ruffin with the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Immediately after seeing lightning, count the seconds together until you hear thunder. If you divide the seconds by five, you’ll learn the miles between the point of the lightning and yourself, according to the Weather Channel Kids website. If you're able to count to 10 after seeing the lightning and then hearing the thunder, for instance, then the lightning flash was 2 miles away. Keep counting and you should notice the storm moving closer or farther away from you with shorter or longer intervals between lightning flashes and thunder. The counting activity can distract your child from his fears.