There have been some worried children around Victoria lately. Fear of rain and storms is a common source of childhood anxiety. Their fear is real; they don’t have an adult understanding of Emergency Services, safety plans, government warnings that keep us safe, or of geography in general. My 8 year old is worried there will be a tzunami!
BEFORE you rush in with logic and explanations, make sure you’ve respected their fear and communicated understanding and acceptance. “Yes, it can be pretty scary seeing these photos of floods in the news. It sounds like you’re worried. ” Allow your child to hear you speak to others with calming facts. Saying it directly to your child when they’re highly anxious or don’t feel like their worry has been validated, will be taken as a lecture and a dismissal of their fears. Hearing it indirectly allows them to hear the facts without feeling confronted.
If your child is open to it, make a coping plan with them. You could make a list of things to do when the storm hits. You could make a basket or box of activities and soothing objects.
The news loves sensationalism and children don’t know what is historical or distant, and what is current or local. The photo doing the rounds of Elizabeth St under water in 1972 is pretty scary! But we are – for the most part – safe. If you yourself are worried, you can role model soothing your fears (not too much wine!). Focus on comforting activities and on stories of coping and helping (e.g., State Emergency Services heroes).
P.S. Remember your pets’ fears too! Our Maggie sometimes needs half a sedative as storms set off her epilepsy.