Last night, an EF-1 tornado plowed through Eden, NC. Fierce winds and a torrential downpour impacted several areas of the Triad. The sound of the winds against house windows and the heavy rain can be scary for many kids. And when they wake up to fallen trees, broken windows and closed schools, they can feel confused and scared.
Kids take clues on how to act from watching their parents. So if you - mom or dad, take the storm in stride and act calm then your kids will find strength in your response. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be scared. This means that they’ll feel reassured.
You might not be sure what to say to your kids because you don't want to scare them. Realize that your kids will be naturally curious when they see any storm damage. When you answer their questions with straightforward answers, you take the mystery out of it. And this is reassuring.
With younger kids (preschool and elementary), my advice is to follow their lead. If they talk about fallen trees blocking the roads or damaging houses then use that as a starting point for a conversation about clean up, how homes will be fixed or how storms cause that kind of damage. With older kids (middle school and high school), you can have straightforward talks.
Even if your kids don't seem bothered by the storms then you should still talk to them indirectly about the storm. Take a temperature reading to see if they have any worries about storms. You could say, “Wow, the storm made a bit of a mess. What do you think about it?” Listen to what they say.
With all kids, watch for their facial expressions and body language for signs of anxiety or fear when you’re talking about storms or they seeing images of the damage.
Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/corporate trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.