Parents struggle with decision to talk to children about Boston Marathon bombings

Experts: Kids experience anxiety, stress as well

Experts say talking to children about the deadly violence that erupted at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tuesday afternoon varies by age. The explosions, which authorities are continuing to investigate, injured more than 140 and killed two people, including an 8-year-old.

Like their parents and teachers, children experience anxiety and stress when such events occur whether it’s down the street or across the nation.

The most important thing parents can do in the coming hours and days ahead is to talk to children, according to various school and child mental health websites.  

Mental Health America and the National Association of School Psychologists offers these general tips for parents:

  • • Reassure children they are safe: Look for clues that kids want to talk and let them talk freely and help them talk when they are ready. Make time to talk or look for other outlets – like writing, drawing or coloring especially for younger children.
  • • Be honest and open, being mindful of the age of children.
  • • Turn off the TV and Internet: Limit viewing as the images and discussion may be too advanced for some children, depending on their age. Be careful of your language when discussing the events – trying to provide facts and not language of vengeance, hate or anger.
  • • Look for any changes in kids’ emotions: Some tragedies may trigger chances in sleeping, behavior or appetite. If you are concerned that children are having trouble with the information, you can seek the help of a mental health professional.
  • • Maintain normal routines: Try to maintain your daily routines as much as possible, including that children get plenty of sleep, eat regular meals and exercise.

Additional Resources:

The National Association of School Psychologists

Coping with Tragedy from the California Department of Education

Share my lesson (a website for teachers) (pdf available in various languages)

Save the Children: How to Help Children Cope with a Crisis:


Spanish version:


On Good Morning America Tuesday, Dr. Janet Taylor and Dr. Sebastian Schubl reviewed how to discuss terrorism with children.

Mobile users click to watch the video:
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