, Salem, MA

April 16, 2013

Supporting your children in wake of Boston Marathon tragedy

Dr. Kate Roberts/Dr. Kate's Parent Rap
The Salem News

---- — The Boston tragedies leave me feeling a potpourri of emotions. On the one hand, I am keenly aware of how much I have to be grateful for, my life, my children, and our health. At the same time, I want to protect it all, smother it and hide away with my kids, while succumbing to distrust, anger and fear. All my emotions are real and raw and yet, I must defer to reason in this time of crisis and act on what I know to be true: That life is positive, that people are trustworthy and that our existence and being calls for an open heart and a brave soul. I feel intensely for the victims and their families of today’s tragedies. I defer to prayer, karma and reason and choose let the rest go.

Parents: I know your children are your priority. Here are some ways to help them.

10 ways parents can support children in a crisis

1. Limit access and exposure to TV, social media and "suggestible" discussions

2. Listen, be patient, tolerate children’s irrational thoughts and fears, without indulging them: “I know it’s scary and it feels like it’s going to be us next…. And it’s not"

3. Watch for changes in their behavior — moodiness, nightmares, sleep and eating disturbances

4. Watch for increased anxiety in reaction to more immediate life issues (upcoming tests, exams, performances)

5. Role model "Calm, Calm, Calm" and if parents are not feeling calm, process with adults, away from your children, to protect them from your own irrational fears

6. Help children remain in their routines and /or return to it as soon as possible

7. Encourage them to help others allowing them to feel empowered that they can “do” something

8. Know and believe that everyone, even children and teens, are resilient and do overcome stress and the aftermath of a crisis to return to baseline

9. It is normal for kids to feel upset, sad, confused or afraid after something bad happens; let your child know it’s OK to have these feelings and that they pass

10. If kids can’t get back to baseline or show difficulty adjusting to their routine and normal life, seek professional help.

Dr. Kate Roberts is a psychologist and parent coach; her focus is helping parents, help their children. Direct your questions to or Follow her on Twitter @DrKateParenting.