My Child Is Afraid of Thunderstorms
A lot of people say "My child is afraid of thunderstorms". But then a lot of adults are also afraid of thunderstorms -- as are many dogs! The condition in adults is known as astraphobia.
Astraphobia or a natural fear?
While many children are indeed afraid of thunder and lightning it doesn't mean they have astraphobia. Children experience a lot of fears as they grow up, such as fear of the dark. That is a perfectly healthy phenomenon. For many children these fears simply represent a passing phase and they literally grow out of it.
For that reason if a child is afraid of a thunderstorm then this is not always something to get worried about. Children develop by experiencing fears and then overcoming them and most children get through the phase of worrying about the crash of thunder.
However if, as a parent you have to deal with a children burying their heads under the blankets or hiding under the bed, screaming with each crack of thunder, then it is no comfort to know that they might grow out of it. The situation needs to be handled there and then.
Be a good role model -- prevent your own fears
The first requirement is that you, the adult do not show fear yourself. Children are very sensitive to emotions and will quickly pick up that you are afraid. That will make the child even more afraid. Even if you are afraid pretend that you are not. Hold them and let them hold you so as to provide reassurance.
If you are able to calm yourself you can then focus on speaking calmly to the child.
If you have had warning of the coming storm then it is a good idea to think up some fun games for the children to play. Make them count out loud the interval between a flash of lightning and the crack of thunder. Give the impression that it's no big deal that there is a storm raging outside. When thunder cracks you can say in a calm voice that that was a big crack, and then you can divert their attention to something else. Make it clear that they are safe here in the house with you.
Becoming a phobia
Most children get over their fear of thunder simply by getting used to it. It is only if this fear last longer than a few months that there may be cause for concern. If the fear of thunderstorms is carried over into adulthood then it can become a more debilitating phobia. Some adults who are afraid of thunder and lightning become obsessed with weather forecasts and start to refuse to leave the home if there is a threat of a storm.
Consequently if the fear of thunderstorms persists in your child then it may be appropriate to investigate deeper ways of teaching your children to unlearn their fears. There is a program known as the Anxiety--Free Child which provides detailed guidance for parents on how to work with children to overcome their fears. Many parents have found this program useful and you may do so too.