The shocking images and tragic stories coming out of the Boston Marathon bombing are difficult for adults to absorb. And explaining the horror to our children is especially troubling. Perhaps advice from a Northwest grief counselor can help.
“I’m always asking that children get the truth from their parents before they hear it in distorted ways,” said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center in Portland. She counsels children as young as three and traveled to Newtown to meet with parents after the Sandy Hook shootings. “Kids take their cues from parents so we have to keep our fears in check,” she explained. Schuurman believes the bombings in Boston should be discussed with children as young as eight or nine. “They are going to hear that a child who was only 8 was killed, so that adds another layer for them. It makes it less abstract when a child is involved,” she said.
At the Play Boutique in Lake Oswego Moms were trying to forget the Boston tragedy with a fun outing for the kids. “Your first instinct is to protect them and shelter them,” remarked Kelley Peake. “But I did talk with my kids last night and pointed out all the heroes, the people working hard to protect us.” Those positive images, says Schuurman, can comfort kids and they should be reinforced with a basic message. “The likelihood of a random event happening is small but we are going to stick together when bad things happen in our lives.”
The conversation can begin with a question like, “Did you hear what happened in Boston?” “Keep the language simple. A bomb went off and people were killed. Then answer all the questions your child asks,” concluded Schuurman.
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