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Helping Children Make Sense of the Senseless
Date:4/17/2013

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- It's the day after the Boston Marathon bombings and three people are dead, including an 8-year-old boy who came to cheer on friends during the race. The boy's mother and sister are both seriously injured. A nation is on edge -- again. And parents are wondering what to tell their young children and how to help them cope with the carnage.

"If it's a very young child, I would keep him away from TV sets, try to limit their access to the kind of news that I've been watching myself on TV," said Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City.

"As kids get a little older, they take their leads from their parents. If their parents are frightened and anxious, the kids will be frightened and anxious," Hilfer added. "If parents are able to present a calmer [response], the kids will begin to relax more. If the parents reassure the kids that this is something the police and federal authorities are looking into, and they'll figure out who did this and how to deal with it, kids will be less frightened."

By now, children have already seen and heard a lot about the Boston tragedy, noted Dr. Rachel Yehuda, a psychiatrist and post-traumatic stress disorder expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"Children already know -- I don't think that parents need to bring up events like this because they'll hear about it from their friends and in their schools, on the news," Yehuda said. "The parent's job is to make the child feel very safe and encourage the child to ask any questions that they have."

On the other hand, Yehuda said, parents should "resist completely minimizing the anxiety, because we do live in a world where it is important to prepare ourselves and our children for adversity. But the idea that bad things happen but you can be safe is a more powerful message than 'don't worry, that
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