UNT educational psychology expert can comment on helping kids cope with recent tragedies

Friday, April 19, 2013 - 18:31

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Dr. Wendy Middlemiss, associate professor of educational psychology in the University of North Texas' College of Education, is available to discuss how parents can help their children cope with this week's onslaught of news – from the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday to the West fertilizer plant explosion on Wednesday and the hunt for the marathon bombing suspect today.

Middlemiss can be reached at wendy.middlemiss@unt.edu or 940-369-8870.

Middlemiss offers these tips:

  1. Guide children away from news reports and discussions of the bombing, gun battle and other related violent and distressing images. Exposure to these images can be as distressing as witnessing them in person, and for young children, it is hard to process and understand these events. It is hard even for adolescents and adults.
  2. Assure children of their safety. Events such as this make it clear that there are times when unforeseen events can occur and cause great trauma. However, it is important to assure children of their general safety and the unusual nature of such events. Assure them that you are with them, and will be with them and that you will do everything to keep them safe. Point to the normal routines and their safety.
  3. For adolescents, discuss the bombing and related issues. In your conversation, discuss the general safety of everyday routines; help them process the events that occurred, the tragedies related to these events and the fear that can result.
  4. Ask questions and give clear, simple, but real answers. All children will have some exposure to the events. Ask children what they think; give them time to ask questions. Do so now as things are unfolding, but also remember to ask later as time goes by.
  5. Watch your children, no matter their age. Be sensitive to any changes. With changes, be sure to ask questions. Let children and adolescents know that whatever they are feeling is OK. Help them understand and work through how they feel -- whether frightened, angry, confused or scared.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108