Your child may be aware of what happened at the Boston Marathon. Here’s how you can help him handle what he knows.
When difficult things happen in the world — such as the Boston bombings — it’s sometimes hard to shelter young children from what’s going on, and you need to be aware. When kids are traumatized by events happening in the world, you get the serious opportunity of guiding them through. Here are tips:
• Start the conversation.
Talk about what your child has heard. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child’s mind. With social media it’s highly unlikely that children and teenagers have not heard about what’s going on.
• Find out what your child already knows.
Start by asking what your child already has heard about the events from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what he or she knows or believes. As your child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns. Understand that this information will change as more facts become known.
• Gently correct inaccurate information.
If your child/teen has inaccurate information or misconceptions, take time to provide the correct information in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.
• Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer those questions directly.
Your child may have some difficult questions for you. Having question-and-answer talks gives your child ongoing support as he begins to cope with the range of emotions stirred up by difficult situations. Stay calm and do your best to answer your child briefly.
• Limit media exposure.
Limit your child’s exposure to media images and do not allow very young children to see or hear any TV/radio tragedy-related messages. Even if they appear to be engrossed in play, children often are aware of what you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio. What may not be upsetting to an adult may be very upsetting and confusing for a child. Limit your own exposure as well.
Source: National Center for Traumatic Stress Network