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How To Talk To Kids About The Boston Bombing

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Image of police officers in the moments after the explosions. [John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/AP] Image of police officers in the moments after the explosions. [John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/AP]
The injured, including a young boy, are rushed to receive medical care after the bombing. AP Photo. The injured, including a young boy, are rushed to receive medical care after the bombing. AP Photo.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

It's a question many parents have been asking: How do you talk to children about the attack in Boston.

The experts at Family & Children's Services in Tulsa offer the following advice:

Children don't always react the same as adults do to death and tragedy. Typical behavior for kids may include confusion, anger/irritability, nightmares or insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches and stomach aches, regressive behavior (thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, renewed sibling rivalry, demonstrating less responsibility) and difficulty in school.

Don't try to keep kids in the dark or shield them from all news of the tragedy. Chances are that your kids are going to hear about what's happened from their friends, via media or from another source. Hiding information isn't the answer. It's important to be open and honest, but the approach you take should vary based on your child's age and understanding.

4/16/2013 Related Story: Source: Boston Marathon Bomb Made Of Bearings In Pressure Cooker

For preschoolers and very young children:

• Reassure them that they are safe now.

• Give extra hugs and physical comfort.

• Stick to routines as much as possible. Routines are comforting and give a sense of order.

• Monitor what they watch and hear, as some news reports might plant scary images in their heads.

• Answer questions directly and in very clear terms. (For example, "passed on" can be confusing… or if you're dealing with the death of a family pet, "put to sleep," isn't clear enough for most young kids.)

• Don't be surprised if a child in this age group shows you he's angry or frightened by showing regressive behavior or by acting things out during her play, or by drawing certain images.

For grammar school-aged children:

• Don't provide false reassurance/sugar-coat things. This is an age when children will question you.

• Monitor what they watch and hear, as some news reports might plant scary images in their heads.

• They'll be able to pick up on your emotions, so admit it if you're feeling sad or angry – but also reassure them that your job is to take care of them.

• Stick to routines as much as possible.

For teenagers:

• Monitor what information they get from the news and the Internet, and use those reports as springboards for conversation.

• Realize that while teens may try to play down their worries or "act cool," that doesn't mean they're unfeeling or oblivious.

4/15/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Runners Witness Explosions At Boston Marathon

• Be honest about any financial, physical or emotional impacts the situation has had on your family directly. 

For more information, visit the Family & Children's Services web site.

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