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Talking about scary news with your kids

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Image Credit: Charles Krupa/AP

Like too many times before, I found myself glued to multiple screens devouring every update about Monday’s tragedy in Boston. While I couldn’t tear myself away from the images of chaos and mayhem, which evoked memories of a September morning 12 years ago, I was grateful that this time I wasn’t home with my young kids. It was hard for me to remember then how much the constant loop of devastation could make a child fearful of their very existence. But hopefully many other parents are better informed thanks to things like this PBS.org tumblr post, which spells out how to talk to children about scary news. Of course, everything sounds like it’ll be alright coming from Mr. Rogers in that soothing voice. One of his most quotable lines encourages parents to tell their children: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

You can listen to more of his helpful nuggets of wisdom here. And here are some of the strategies the non-profit recommends:

  1. Start by finding out what your child knows.
  2. Ask a follow up question.
  3. Explain simply.
  4. Listen and acknowledge.
  5. Offer reassurance.
  6. Tailor your answer to your child’s age.

And most of all, when something awful happens that feels so close to home, let them know they are safe.

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