DAD CHAT: HELPING KIDS COPE WITH MARATHON TRAGEDY
4/16/2013 8:26:00 AM
It's a tough day in Massachusetts and the world after the senseless bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, on Boylston Street, yesterday afternoon. Three people, including an eight-year-old Dorchester boy, were killed and 144 others were injured, several critically.
For those of us who are parents it brings up the difficult question about how to handle it with our children. It's frightening for ALL adults, so it stands to reason children will be horrified and frightened, as well.
The experts, including Dr. Susan Swick, head of Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatry at Newton Wellesley Hospital, suggest finding out exactly how much your kids know. Answer them in accordance with how old they are. Toddlers and three and four year olds need not be told, since they probably aren't aware anyway. However, Dr. Swick points out that if your four-year-old is the youngest and has older siblings, they may be hearing about it. Re-assure them that these types of events are very rare, that they are safe and everything is OK.
As the children progress in age, you'll need to explain a little bit more, but the basic message of safety and the rare nature of these occurances should be repeated. Older children, including teens, will ask why it happens. It's OK to tell the kids that many adults don't know why these events occur.
We are also a very visual society and the experts say to limit TV and internet exposure and the videos and pictures that go along with them. They can be very traumatizing.
Here are some recommendations from the National Associations of School Psychologists.
Please email me with questions, comments and suggestions at HMorse@wror.com