Boston Marathon Heartbreak… Parents Talking to Kids

By now we’ve all seen the horrible images of the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  Some of your children, especially if they are older, saw or heard about it before you had the chance to talk to them.  Some of you have younger children who saw it as ‘breaking news’ on the TV screen or their older siblings said something out loud about it.  In any case, technology gets information to children fast and without filter.

That is why even if your kids already have information about the Boston tragedy, it is still extremely important that you talk to them about it in your own words as their parents.  We all try to make sense out of this senseless act and so will your kids if they are over the age of 4.  It is nearly impossible to wrap our heads around how this could happen and who would do such a thing.  So in order to help your kids understand begin by letting them feel whatever feelings they have, even if it’s hard to see them feel sad or scared.

First of all, make sure you are clear about how you feel about what happened in Boston.  As your kids can ‘read’ your feelings from a very young age, even if they cannot identify exactly which feeling you have and this can potentially confuse them.

Next, let them have their own feelings, even if they are not the same as yours.  Then, help them DEAL with whatever feelings they have which will build resiliency, giving them hope for the future.  If they are sad teach them how to deal by letting them know that it’s okay to cry.  They don’t need to hide their feelings (nor do you).  The important thing is to take some time to be sad and then let it go!

One of the ways to ‘let it go’ is to give your kids suggestions about what they can do with their feelings.  For example, tell them to use their energy to think about how they can help the families who were affected by this heartbreaking day. Like write a letter to families who are directly affected, draw/paint a picture or give $ no matter how small the amount and to any of  the various organizations that are collecting funds for victims.

Last, but not least, be a broken record when talking to your kids by telling them over and over again that they are safe.

My thoughts and prayers are going out to all families that are experiencing this heartbreak, Dr. Ann