Coping With The Marathon Bombing – Tips For Adults And Children

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon bombing has affected many; young and old, emotionally and physically. How to cope effectively when such a horrific tragedy has occurred is the topic on the minds of many. As a psychotherapist the most commonly asked questions that are sent my way includes;

  1. What are your tips to help adults cope with such a horrific crime?
  2. What are your tips to help parents communicate with their children when such devastation has occurred?

Provided below you will find the answers to these very questions. 

Coping Tips For Adults

  1. Appreciate what you have.
  2. Find your strength.
  3. Ban together.
  4. Help others.
  5. Positive reassuring self talk statements.
  6. Reality talk (e.g., “The good outweighs the bad”, “The chance of terrorism is still low”).
  7. Continue on with your day. Give yourself permission to continue to do activities you find pleasurable (this does not infer you do not care about those who have been hurt by this tragedy, this does not infer disrespect).
  8. Take time to process what you are feeling.
  9. Give yourself permission to take time to heal.
  10. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling as all feelings in response to such a horrific crime is normal (e.g., anger, sadness, worry, anxiety).

Tips For Talking With Your Children

  1. Create an atmosphere of open dialogue. Talk with your kids not at your kids.
  2. Be honest in your answer to any of their questions. If you do not know the answer to their question acknowledge as such and suggest you research the answer together.
  3. Communicate in an age appropriate manner, as well as be mindful of your children’s personalities and developmental level. Be mindful of your communication.
  4. Validate their thoughts, feelings and reactions. Normalize their feelings. Reassure them of their safety discussing with your children the likelihood of this type of event occurring. Recognizing although this horrific crime did happen how rare it is.
  5. Role model a healthy response as children take cues from their parents’ behavior.
  6. Balance the worry, anxiety, sadness, anger, and/or pain they may be feeling with giving them permission and help to continue to do activities they enjoy doing so their entire mind and focus is not on the tragedy 24/7. The balance of living life while mourning is just that – a balance.
  7. Evaluate with your children what your children need to do to feel okay.
  8. Balance the quantity and quality of information. Turn off the TV and radio. There is much coverage of this event. It is important that children are educated about what has happened but not overloaded. The imagery is graphic and too much for children and adults to be watching and hearing about if too much throughout the day.

Today LIVE on air, this parenting expert and family therapist was interviewed on The Andrea Tantaros Show addressing the aforementioned tips. You are invited to listen on demand.

I invite you to read an article by Deborah Kotz in The Boston Globe where this human behavior expert, along with several mental health practitioners share our insight and tips.

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