|Tree and Storm by George Hodan|
During this time period we have tried several things to show her that all in all, thunderstorms are not that dangerous. Not if you are taking precautions of course. I mean, I am not interested in her swinging around a giant flag pole in the middle of a lightning storm, but for the most part we never see the damaging power of a storm; especially here in inland Georgia. I couldn't quite get away with saying that when I lived in Florida, or even coastal South Carolina.(no she has never been through a hurricane, so that is not contributing to her fear)
Over the summer, my husband would try and get her to sit outside during an afternoon storm but it was rare for her to choose to do this. Her fear was just too great. I supposed I can understand, as I have a huge fear of frogs (yes, I said frogs) and snakes - regardless if I know they are harmless, I flip out when I see one too close to me. So with that in mind, I get where she is coming from; unfortunately, her fear interferes with school. Last year, when there was a bad thunderstorm, she had to sit in the counselors office until it passed because she was so paralyzed by fear. Try as I might, she just couldn't move on. Then September of last year, I messed up. I will just quote from my Facebook post:
So - you ever have one of those parenting moments when you realize 'Ooo, I screwed up!" To preface: my darling little girl is scared to death of tornadoes/storms .... fascinated in a way - but scared. So I see that 'Twister' is coming on the TV. In my head I am thinking, oh this movie is kind of scientific; perhaps it will teach her more about tornadoes, and she will be less scared. Well, that was my FIRST big mistake. I completely forgot that it is Hollywood's goal to get a rise out of us jaded adults; not to mention 8-yr olds. So we sit down to watch as the first scene rolls on to the TV. All I remember of this scene is that a storm comes and they go into a storm cellar. SEE - being prepared, that is how you conquer fear! They run to the cellar as I remember; oops the dog almost gets left, but it is all OK because he gets in in time (good too, because he looks like Killer) and the storm build up. THEN - ***the dad gets sucked out of the cellar by the storm***. (just as that happened, I think OMG WHAT was I THINKING???) I look at Ro - she looks at me *completely* horrified, then tears into her room crying. I try to get up to console her, but I can't because I am doubled over in laughter at 1. the thought of how horribly I effed THAT up and 2. The horrified look on her face. SO, there it is ... the reason she will need therapy in the future; I had to give her at least one reason! :-) (Yes she is calm now, watching a very safe sponge bob instead of Twister)
Yes - so all of the work we had done up to that point was completely destroyed by my inability to really remember the movie. To make it worse, my daughter is very much a daddy's girl; so if it would have been the mom - yeah, she would have been sad, but I don't think she would have run out of the room in sheer terror like she did.
Most of the time, this problem is just something she needs to grow out of - and not much more than that. When a storm is rolling in right at her bed time, that is a whole new set of issues. She gets so upset that she starts pacing through the house until there is a loud crack of thunder and she will scream and run to jump in either my lap or my husbands lap. Because of this she is not going to sleep; so then I run into the dilemma of: console her - or make her go to sleep. If she wasn't such a bear when she is sleep deprived, then I would consider just consoling her until the storm is over - but when my baby doesn't get the sleep she needs: watch out world! When this happened last night I ended up choosing to just console her for a bit and then make her lay down to sleep. Fortunately there is a couch in our bedroom so she slept in there - after she finished being obsessed with the radar - but sleep she did, even if it was about an hour after her normal bed time.
What have you done to help your children move past their fears? Did you just let them grow out of it, or did you work out some tricks that really helped?