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Talking to Kids about the Tragedy in Boston

Long Island parents may find their children hearing about the tragedy and find themselves in a difficult discussion.

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“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.’” -Mister Rogers

In the wake of the Boston Marathon explosions, Long Island parents may find their children hearing about the tragedy or seeing it on the news and find themselves in a difficult discussion.  It is beyond comprehension.

There are no easy or one-size-fits-all answers when talking to your kids about tragedy and violence.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Tell your children what happened–it’s important that they hear it from you. Do it in a broad-strokes way (“There were explosions at the marathon and some people were hurt”).
  • Answer their questions simply and honestly (again, in a broad-strokes way–details aren’t necessary).
  • Limit their exposure to media. It’s hard not to end up glued to the television, especially as events are unfolding, but it may be very upsetting to children. Use your laptop or smart phone instead.
  • Make sure they know that events like these are very rare. It’s usually very safe to be in public places.
  • Let them know that you, and other helping adults, are working all the time to keep them safe. Talk about some of the ways you do this.
  • Understand that they, like you, may need time to process what has happened. They may be upset but not even know why, so be patient if they act out in unusual ways.
  • If your child is showing signs of stress, like nightmares, trouble sleeping, crying or other signs of anxiety, call your pediatrician.
  • Give lots of extra hugs. They will help you, too.


Share your tips on talking with your kids on our Parenting Forum.