Helping Children Cope With the Tragedy in Boston

April 16, 2013

In the wake of yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, our thoughts and sympathies are with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. Today, as we are left with more questions than answers, we may be asking ourselves, “How do we handle this in our family? How do we talk to our children about what happened?” Here at CIRP@CHOP, we turn to our colleagues that have experience in communicating with children about these very sensitive topics.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has a variety of information available, from how to talk to children about the event to how much media exposure parents should allow. As NCTSN suggests, parents shouldn’t ignore the issue or act like it hasn’t happened. Instead, they should talk to their child about what he or she already knows and answer any questions they have. It’s also important to understand that what may not be disturbing or upsetting to an adult can have a very different impact on a child, so media exposure to video of the bombings should be limited. Additional information is available here: http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism

Downloadable tip sheets for parents whose children are directly affected by trauma are available from the Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress in English and Spanish. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has information and resources available to families following the bombings, including how to help children cope or grieve: http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Children-and-Disasters/Pages/Talking-to-Children-About-Disasters.aspx

We hope that these resources are valuable to families in the days and weeks following yesterday’s horrible events.