Talking To Our Kids About The Boston Marathon Bombings

Invariably when we send our kids to school over the next few days, children will be chattering about the tragedy in Boston. As parents, we are charged with properly preparing our children for what will be the talk around town. Information is obviously still unfolding. We know that two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, one of the most historic races in our country. Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, have died...and more than 140 people are injured.  To try to even make sense of it is impossible.

Already, I am practicing how I will tell my children; especially my wide eyed youngest who always sees the bright side of a situation. I am truly dreading having to discuss another tragedy with them. Newtown is still so fresh in our minds.

Here are some quick tips for us all to remember:

1. Turn the media off. Continued exposure to such a tragedy can cause panic, stress and anxiety.

2. While you may be tempted to avoid telling your children, chances are they will hear about it on the bus or playground. They are best served hearing the news from you.

3. Offer the information at a level they can understand. How and what you say will depend on the ages of your children. Spare them the graphic details.

4. They take their cues from you. If they sense your own fear and panic when you tell them, you may unwittingly reinforce their own fears about safety.

5. Answer their questions kindly, carefully and honestly.

6. They may not have a reaction. Younger children are especially focused solely on the world around them. Don’t be surprised if your children have less of a reaction than expected. Boston may sound like a faraway place, and the marathon may not be something to which they can relate. Unlike the tragedy in Newtown, your children may not pay the information much mind because it seemingly does not relate to them.

7. Give them status updates on friends and family. If you know people who live in Boston or folks who went there to run the marathon, offer your children the information you have about them if they ask.

8. Highlight the humanity of others. Be sure to emphasize how people are rushing to help those affected. Don’t forget to paint the part of the picture that reflects the kindness of strangers and the honor with which first responders are operating.

It is difficult to understand why such a tragedy can occur. It is even harder to try to explain the rhyme and reason to our kids when none seemingly exists. While the day seems dark and long, the sun will rise tomorrow. Our children model resilience and strength when they can continue to laugh and smile in the wake of a tragedy. Perhaps a simple reminder that this too shall pass.

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