(Long Island, N.Y.) I’m still finding it hard to wrap my mind around what happened in Boston on Monday. It’s almost too heavy and heartbreaking to comprehend. How do you address the horrific events when the kids start asking questions?
I asked parenting expert Deborah Gilboa, MD, of AskDoctorG.com to offer some tips on how to get the conversation flowing and ease their fears.
1. Think through your own feelings. However our children react, we need to be able to focus on them and have worked through our own initial responses. Seeing a parent break down can make that conversation much scarier, and puts the child in the role of wanting to comfort. Furthermore, they may not be able to take in what we’re saying if they more concerned about our emotions. We don’t have to pretend we’re not affected, but should process things a little before talking to our kids.
2. Think about your child. His or her developmental stage, and coping mechanisms. There are some great websites for help with this, including the American Academy of Pediatrics www.healthychilren.org.
3. Keep your conversation short, and leave the door open for further conversations later in the day or week. Ask at some other point, “How are you doing? Any questions or thoughts?”
4. Highlight the heroes. In addition to talking about the “bad guys” talk about the heroes also. Mention all the people who ran to help, all the marathoners who kept running after the race – right to the hospital to donate blood! In the days following a tragedy there are always stories of heroic actions.
5. Create good from the bad. Look for something you and your kids can do to support the people who are suffering, or some other way to make the world a better place. This teaches resilience and creates problem-solvers!