Lightning is genuinely terrifying. Ancient peoples imagined gods throwing lightning bolts from Mount Olympus. Smiting people for displeasing them. A power far beyond our control.
We’ve all experienced that feeling of powerlessness. Walking home in a thunder storm. Totally exposed. Knowing that if struck you’ll be blown from the Earth before you’re even conscious of what’s happened.
With this in mind, when our kids come to us feeling scared during a deafening thunder storm, it’s a fair reaction on their part. As my son put it, “Everybody don’t like thunder, daddy”.
How can we help them to feel less afraid?
It depends on their age, but assuming they’re between 2 to 5 years, we can start by explaining what thunder and lightning are in terms suited to how old they are. It’s important not to dismiss their concerns while explaining that we’re quite safe, given that we’re inside our house or sitting in a car.
Explain that it’s incredibly rare for someone to actually be hit by lightning. That it usually happens when you’re out in water or walking outside amongst tall trees.
Again, we’re quite safe here inside the house.
Go into the science behind lightning. How it’s electricity being discharged from the atmosphere, connecting down into the earth.
That thunder is the sound of lightning, and because sound travels slower than light, we actually see the lightning before we hear the thunder.
Yes, loud noises can be scary
What would help us to feel more secure?
Perhaps building a massive fort out of pillows and blankets and sheltering inside?
We can move away from the windows and stop looking out at the storm.
We can also develop rituals in response to thunder, like watching a favourite movie or playing loud music and having a dance party.
For the grown ups, here’s some crazy WTF lightning!