Easing Your Child's Fear of Severe Weather

Updated: 05/26/2014 6:27 PM
Created: 05/26/2014 5:00 PM
By: Cassie Hart

Children often say they want to be just like their mom or dad when they grow up. However, it turns out that mentality plays a big role when it comes to their fears.

June 14, 1981 is a day Patrick Burke will never forget. His 11-year-old daughter Lilli won't either. Some call it the “Har Mar Tornado” while others call it the “Lake Harriet” or “Edina” tornado.

"The wind kind of picked up and I remember somebody yelling tornado!" said Burke. "I was, I was very scared. I was scared for a long time after that."

And for good reason, the tornado injured 83 people and killed one.

"Our initial goal was to run across the street to the first house we could get into," Burke said.

He survived by hanging onto a park bench near Lake Harriet. “I was scared anytime the wind blew and there was clouds in the sky."

He eventually got over his fear of storms, but believe it or not, that fear can be contagious.

"It just makes me feel like scared, and I don't feel safe," said his daughter Lilli.

5 Eyewitness News meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas is writing a book about how parents can help their kids if they have a fear of severe weather. He's researched the subject for years.

"If one parent is up on the deck trying to record the storm, not taking shelter, making a game out of it, not taking it seriously, then the child will get very upset about that too because they feel like their parent is in danger," Jonathan said.

Lilli said her parents tell her it's going to be ok during storms, “I usually just try to play it cool, go downstairs, pretend I’m watching TV."

Jonathan suggests having a severe weather plan in place before the storm. "You'd want to have extra keys for your house and for your car, you'd want to have extra food for your kids and water for everyone as well," Jonathan said.

Also, he suggests having a cellphone and charger, cash, a credit card and a blanket.

He also said talk to your kids about their fears. Jonathan suggests going to the library with them and reading a book or two about severe weather. "This offers a safe environment to teach your kids more about severe weather,” Jonathan said.

If your kids still have storm anxiety, Jonathan said talk to your pediatrician.

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