Calming the storm fears of Abilene children

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Wednesday’s storms brewed familiar uneasy feelings for Abilene children that remember last month’s tornado, but family outreach professionals say those fears can be calmed through conversation.

“It was like four houses down, the tornado missed us. I was a little scared last night though,” said Gavin Coss who was staying the night at his grandparents’ home when the tornado rolled through Abilene.

Being afraid of thunder, lighting, and high wind is not uncommon after weather-related trauma says Megan Harbin, director of MCH Family Outreach which counsels families going through different forms of hardships. However, not addressing a child’s emotions after trauma can lead to more long-term issues.

“If they don’t feel safe their learning decreases, their ability to make good decisions decreases. If kids are in a heightened stressful state for too long their brains get used to it,” said Harbin.

Harbin suggests that families make the Abilene tornado a learning opportunity: parents should discuss how severe weather happens, develop an emergency-readiness plan, and keep the conversation about storm devastation open and age appropriate.

“We don’t want them walking around being fearful of every time the wind blows. The kids are our future, so we want them to grow up to be as healthy and happy as they possibly can be,” Harbin said.

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