Summertime... and the living is easy. Sunshine, family parties, great food, and of course, Independence Day. And while lots of kids light up at the thought of watching a fireworks display, even the most fearless child can turn into a quivering, screaming mass of panic at the first colorful flash and the thunderous boom that follows. So what’s a fireworks-loving family to do if one of its younger members is terrified of the spectacle?
See if one of these parent-tested tips quells the terror, but keep in mind that whichever kid fears the Fourth it’s just plain cruel to make them “tough it out.”
1. Practice. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. At what point did huge, fiery balls of color loudly exploding in the sky become a good thing? Watch movies with fireworks in them. Tell your child you’re getting him ready to hear the noise and that the fireworks will be very far away and can’t fall on him.
2. Work out a "safe plan" so your child knows he or she has a place to go to escape the fireworks.
3. Be understanding and don't dismiss it as not a big deal. Some children are born with a temperament that makes them more sensitive to loud noise
4. Pick your viewing spot with care. A dark, crowded venue can make calming (or escaping) with a frightened child a nightmare for you both. Look for a spot a little less traveled and more laid back. Not only are the impact and noise of the fireworks reduced, but you'll also be able to leave easily should you need to.
5. Try noise reduction ear muffs or an iPod with headphones to muffle the sound or try watching the fireworks from inside a car.
6. Skip it. Many kids who were terrified of fireworks as toddlers grow into the experience with time. Forcing a fearful child to view a fireworks display may lead to a much longer dislike/fear. Think about adopting a divide-and-conquer strategy in which one parent takes the bigger or more enthusiastic kids to watch, while the others stays home with the little ones to watch the display on TV (with the sound turned down).
Photo: Tamera Ferro