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April 21st, 2013

Boston Bombings, PTSD and Your Kids

The Boston Marathon Bombers have been apprehended – one killed, one captured. It may seem like it’s over, but for many kids, it’s not. The terror that they experienced, by being a witness to the events in person, on line, or on TV is still there. Scary images of bombs exploding, law enforcement personnel with guns drawn, ambulances, helicopters, sirens, gun fights, and lock downs continue to run through their minds. These children are suffering with ongoing anxieties about similar bombings happening to them or in their neighborhoods.

Anxiety symptoms can include repetitive What If thoughts (What If there is a bombing in my town?), sleep problems, appetite problems, crying, explosions of anger, development of new fears (such as fear of going out in crowds, malls) and new anxiety habits (such as repetitive checking of locks in the house or avoidance of trash like the ones where the bombs were planted). These are very real symptoms and can cause genuine distress for children and their families. When the symptoms don’t go away, they can evolve into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

What can you do to help your child worry less and be more resilient? Listen to his or her fears. Don’t minimize them. Reassure children that you are there to protect them and the likelihood of another bombing in their neighborhood is very low. Normalize their lives – be sure your child’s life goes on as normally as possible – school, activities, playmates. Distraction is always a good strategy. And remember, it takes time.

If you are interested in learning more skills about HOW to help your child, worry skills and resilience skills are just a click away. You really can help your child feel better.