With the Boston Marathon bombing and now manhunt underway, many media outlets have experts on to discuss how to talk to children about Boston bombing and other events such as this.
These experts tend to recommend that parents explain the situation to children. While this may be commendable for an older child, there is something missing from these discussions. I have never heard one of these experts talk about the fear level of the parents or recommend that parents remain calm. All the explaining in the world is worthless at reassuring a child if the parent is anxious, tense, and hyper-vigilant herself. Children will hear the words, but focus on the parent’s behavior and emotional energy.
Children don’t really want to know what is going on. They want to know they are safe. I would recommend not necessarily explaining all the details of the events on TV, but to just say calmly and matter of factly that the child will be safe and it is happening a long way away. As a parent, if you are worried, your child will quickly pick this up and become worried herself.
Children are born with very sensitive emotional radar for the emotional state of their caregivers. Being a “pack leader” parent means remembering this 24/7 and not letting your fears and concerns affect your child.