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Weather Worries Can Threaten a Child’s Mental Health

tornadoThe monstrous that devastated Moore, Okla., on Monday, killing dozens of adults and children, is a stunning example of violent that can affect a child’s mental well-being.

But even thunderstorms with lightning and strong winds can be emotionally upsetting, too, health experts note.

Some anxiety in the face of violent weather is normal. But some children develop storm phobias that interfere with their everyday lives, said Stephen Whiteside, a psychologist and anxiety prevention expert at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minn.

Worries about weather can make it hard for kids to concentrate in school, Whiteside said. Some will routinely check weather forecasts or become afraid to leave the house.

It truly is essential that parents certainly not tell their anxious children they’re being silly or in any other case dismiss their fears, he / she said.

“The important thing for parents is always to remember to be warm and supportive of your child, ” Whiteside said in a very Mayo news release. “If you receive anxious or frustrated or even upset, that’s just gonna make things worse. Try and stay calm and help your youngster gradually face their fears in a very step-by-step fashion. ”

experts usually advise parents to protect their children from mass media coverage of natural disasters in order to be available to individuals who need reassurance or ease.

When talking to children about their weather-related worries, Whiteside recommends the following:

  •     Be calm and supportive. Tell children that things like thunder won’t hurt them. Explain that storms are a normal part of nature.
  •     Talk about storms matter-of-factly. Some kids may seem afraid of storms, but are really interested in learning more about them.
  •     The same type of exposure-based behavioral therapy used to treat many worries and phobias works well with weather-related phobias. It boils down to helping children face their fears by gradually helping them learn they can handle a fear — and other uncertainties of life — on their own.
  •     If the anxiety doesn’t diminish, or begins to create greater stress for the child or the parent, get the assistance of a mental health professional.

About 8 % of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, with symptoms commonly emerging around age 6, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

Source: HealthDay News

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