At the finish of the Boston Marathon, the city of Boston was shaken by the explosion of a number of bombs. Almost all of our children have seen horrifying images of death destruction, and distraught family members. For them, as well as for us, following the attack we in Boston and many around the nation are filled with shock, fear, anger, anxiety, and confusion. Helping our children come to terms with this event is an ongoing process. The news coverage is likely to be extensive and out children will be hearing and seeing the events of the day now and repeatedly. In response to this they will have ongoing concerns and need reassurance. It was not long ago that they were all shocked by the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In the moment when there is still chaos and many questions about the nature of the attack, we need to help them cope with the vast uncertainties in the moment. How can we help guide your children through this stressful time?
For Children of All ages
Children need to have answers to three fundamental questions:
It’s important to provide answers to these questions, even if your children don’t put them into words. You should expect to answer these questions several times over the next few days and perhaps longer. Keeping as normal a schedule as possible will help reassure your children as well.
Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers:
Very young children are more disturbed by their parents’ and caregivers’ distress than by the actual events. That’s why they’re comforted more by your actions than your words.
Encourage your school-age children to share their feelings and concerns with you. Reports of taking victims to the hospitals may frighten them, even though they may be afraid or embarrassed to admit it. Let them know that it’s all right for them to be upset, and that you’ll do everything you can to protect them from harm.
Many adolescents are scared. They will know others who went to the Marathon and some even planned to be at the finish line. They wonder what this means for the the safety of others, including parents who work, go to school and live in Boston.. They’re also struggling with questions about justice, power, and control – issues that have been in the news since the Sandy Hook shooting, and even more in the recent debates about gun control.
Most children will cope with the support and understanding of their parents, teachers, coaches, friends and clergy. Some who may be vulnerable because of previous personal experiences may need special attention from a school counselor or family pediatrician
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