As a national community, we grieve for the individuals lost and injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and our hearts extend to the families and spectators most affected. The fact that this event is usually seen as a celebration makes it especially challenging to discuss with our children and for us to comprehend. When events such as these occur, we search for ways to support our children, students, and ourselves. Resources from organizations such as National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and American Psychological Association (APA) help to guide us as professionals, parents and community members. Several ideas for helping to reassure our children of their safety are:
- Reduce exposure to television and news for the near future to lessen anxiety and intense emotional responses.
- Calmly discuss with your children that the event occurred but reinforce their safety by telling them that many people at home, in the school and in the community help to keep them safe. Relate that priority of parents, educators and first responders is safety.
- Discuss with children the roles of people who did so much to provide medical attention and to keep others safe.
- If your children come home from school with questions about comments they may have heard, truthfully clarify and answer. Follow the answers with statements that calmly relate that they are safe and that they have many adults who focus on their safety.
- Focus on describing the compassion that comes from the community and nation in your discussions with your children to reinforce the caring that people so often share with each other.
- Let your children know that any emotions they feel are acceptable and provide the support and comfort they need.
- Keep your schedule normal to continue comfortable routines, but allow for emotional expression and flexibility in activities as needed.
- Get to now the safety plan at your children’s school and ensure that you are linked to the communication notification system that your school or district provides. Extend this safety plan to your community. Reinforce who are safe people children can call when help is needed.
(Gathered from NASP and APA)
There are extremely helpful resources available for parents and educators on the Internet. Please take time to read them and utilize the suggestions and ideas as needed.
As a community we can support our needs and the needs of our children. These helpful resources can guide our discussions to allow us comfort and extend that comfort to our children, helping them know we strive to keep them safe at home, school and in our community.
By Shayna Whitehouse, Ph.D.