Talking to kids about the Boston Marathon bombing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When the unimaginable happens, and it unfolds in High Definition on your television or computer screen, it can be difficult for anyone to process.

"We see this, but it's hard to separate the trauma. Sometimes it's vicarious trauma, that is, not having been there personally and not having suffered it specifically, but seeing this trauma over and over again can saturate," explained psychologist Dr. Jesse Lambert.

For children the impact of tragic events like the Boston bombing can be far reaching.  According Lambert, kids will often personalize tragedy especially in a situation like Boston where victims include young children.

"They have a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy and all they see is something horrible, and it's very difficult for them to process that and understand it," said Lambert.

In this age of constant access to video, pictures and internet it's up to the adult to minimize how much your child sees.  Lambert says to shield them from too much exposure, but explain what happened honestly and put it in perspective which is something kids can't easily do.

"For younger children, for school age children it's important to make them feel safe and to help them understand that this is a relatively rare event," said Lambert. "We don't know why it happened but it's very unlikely that it will happen to you and if something like this does happen, we will be there to protect you."

For older kids, Lambert says not to force a conversation about dealing with tragedy but to let them ask questions when ready.  Then answer the questions in a way that is age appropriate.

When talking to children about situations like Boston, psychologists say adults have to keep their emotions in check as well.  Children are very perceptive, and if an adult is upset or panicked, chances a child will be too. 

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