Families play a critical role in helping to reestablish a sense of normalcy and safety for a child before, during and after a disaster occurs.  Please take a moment to read through these suggestions on how to support your child.

Developmental Explanation

How to Explain Tornadoes to Children
Be honest with children and keep explanations simple. Encourage children to ask questions and lead the discussion.

Wind is caused by warm air and cold mixing together. A tornado is when the warm air and cool air mix together close to the ground.  This causes the air to create a spinning motion like a top. This spinning motion is called a tornado.


Helping Children Prepare for a Tornado
Encourage children to participate in planning as a family. Preparing for and talking about tornadoes helps children cope with fears and anxiety. Work with children to prepare their own by asking them to think about what helps them feel safe, calm, and comfortable. Empowering children with tools to feel prepared will lessen their fears and anxiety and develop skills that may keep everyone safe during severe weather.


All Feelings Are Okay
Using the following  Tools for Caregivers will help children to feel safe, calm and relaxed. Breathing helps children stay grounded, connected, and can be practiced together as a family. Using bubbles, balloons, or party blowers are fun ways to engage children in learning how to take deep slow breaths.


Play It Out
Play is how children understand their world and learn to process difficult experiences.Creating a safe space to act out, express, and recreate moments is how children learn to understand their experiences. After a tornado children may build structures and knock them down repeatedly or want to build a fort to hide in. 


Expressive Art

Express Yourself

Children need opportunities to express themselves. Encourage your child to express emotions through movement, play, art or talking with a trusted adult. Making a tornado in a bottle can help your child understand the science while also sharing their feelings and connecting to mindfulness practices. 


Download an interactive PDF of this DIsaster-Specific Information On Tornadoes

Printable Activity Sheets

General Activity Sheets
Individual Activity Sheets with Instruction

5 Essential Needs for Children Following Disasters

Need more resources? Don't forget to check out our 5 Essential Needs for Children Following Disasters page for more videos, handouts and tips based on the child's age.