It's not just kids who get scared of thunderstorms, because here in Middle Tennessee we get whoppers. And not to mention the potential for tornadoes. Since it's the time of year for unpredictable weather — and especially on a day promising iffy weather — here's help for frayed nerves. Fear of thunderstorms — called astraphobia — is real and common among children. But it can get out of proportion if a child isn't helped along. Here's what to do:

5 Ways to Calm Kids Scared of Thunderstorms

  1. Learn about storms. Take your child to the library and look at books on weather. It's fascinating to know how lightning and other weather events occur. Knowledge is power for all of us. It's also good for kids to know what's happening because it helps them to feel secure.
  2. Use Distraction. Is the sky looking yucky? Don't say, "Oh look! We've got a big storm coming up! We'd better run and hide!" Instead, pop in a movie and monitor the situation in private. If you have to take shelter, say so calmly and in plenty of time so as not to startle everyone.
  3. If the storm's not too intense, watch it together. Show the kids from the window what's happening outside and talk about how it happens. Keep your commentary positive. Nature is an amazing thing.
  4. Know your safe space. Many families are comforted by a basement. Others who don't have them should know where the safest spot in the house is in the event that you need to take shelter.
  5. Don't downplay your child's fear, but validate it. Say soothing things like, "Yes, those loud booms can really make you jump" Or, "I'm so glad we are safe and warm inside during this storm." Don't say, "Oh, I love thunderstorms!" to a child who's scared. Instead say, "Thunderstorms are a part of nature - but they don't last that long, really."
Source: Monsters Under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears by Stephen W. Garber Ph.D. and Robyn Freeman Spizman.