How To Talk To Children About The Boston Tragedy from Expert Child Psychologist Dr. Ohr.

Making sense of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday can be quite a challenge for adults, let alone children.

Children process these things differently.  They may be asking difficult questions and parents may need suggestions to help discuss what happened and address their concerns.

Fred Rogers from the long-running TV show, Mr. Rogers was quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” That is good advice from the wise Mrs. Rogers, but what if your children have questions and need more?

Below are some helpful tips from Child Psychologist Dr. Phyllis Ohr, for Press4Kids’ News-O-Matic, the first educational, news app for children 7 to 10 years old. Dr. Ohr is also the Director of the Child and Parent Psychological Services Clinic at Hofstra and the Assistant Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program.

Here are some tips from Dr. Ohr for how parents can address news issues with children and what children can do to feel better:

1.       When the event does not personally affect the child, reassure them that everything is okay with the people they love and that nothing has changed for them.

2.    Be sure to stress to children that if they do have questions to ask parents, teachers as well as friends. Other children having the same feelings may be comforting.

3.    Begin by giving the child a brief synopsis of what happened by using age appropriate language. Ask if there is something they want to know more about or if they need something explained further. If so, stick to pointedly answering their question or clarifying. Do not add on or digress.

4.    Do not assume the news will make children feel a certain way. Ask if they know how they feel, but stress that kids feel all different ways when they hear important news and sometimes do not know how they feel or do not feel anything which is okay. However, if children are affected by it, it is their own feeling. Reassure children that no matter what they are feeling, their feelings are okay.

5.    If they are upset but don't want to talk, suggest a fun activity for distraction or help them use calming skills like playing, drawing a picture or writing a story. These activities help release any upset feelings and make children feel better.

Here is an example of “Upset by the News” a section of the News-O-Matic app that speaks directly to kids (interested in the App, head over to Press 4 Kids

Act of Terror in Boston                     
Two bombs explode at the Boston Marathon.
By Samantha Rosenberg
Category: U.S.

On Monday afternoon, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The powerful blasts from the small bombs hurt many people. Three were killed. Police have scanned the entire area to make sure there are no more bombs and that everyone is safe.

After the attack, first responders, such as firefighters, police, and concerned citizens, rushed to help. Some runners from the race hurried to hospitals to donate blood. Today, some of the best doctors in the world are caring for the injured.

Many good people in Boston offered beds and warm meals to runners and their families. “What the world saw were stories of heroism and kindness and generosity and love,” President Obama said today at the White House.

“What we don’t yet know is who carried out this attack or why,” Obama said. But the best agents in the country are investigating the case. “It will take time to follow every lead and determine what happened, but we will find out. We will find whoever harmed our citizens,” said Obama.

Acts of terror like this are very rare. Leaders such as President Obama promise to use every resource to keep American people safe.

heroism – bravery
generosity – kindness      
investigating – examining; inspecting

A marathon is a 26.2-mile race. The Boston Marathon dates back to 1897.

You may be feeling upset by this story. Many people may feel upset. Take a deep breath. Then read the News-O-Matic guide called “Upset by the News?”

Geography fun fact:
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon, dating back to 1897.
Reprinted with Permission


gb994 said...

These tips are very helpful. I even downloaded News-O-Matic. The language they use is great for kids. I will definitely try to incorporate the app to my son's daily routine!

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