KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the wake of the Boston tragedy, parents are being reminded how such events can emotionally traumatize young children.
The images and stories splashed everywhere can have a negative impact on a child’s well-being, said psychologist Korenna Barto, urging parents to reinforce their roles as a “safe haven” and secure base.
“It really just means that you have a person or persons that you know you can always turn to that make you feel safe and valued,” she said, “and help provide an emotional and psychological compass or barometer.”
A safe haven and secure base are especially important for children through age 5, she said, adding that the key in providing a secure base for children is consistency.
“When children don’t get that consistency,” she said, “sometimes they don’t feel even like their parent – who is there every day, they wake up to, they go to bed to – doesn’t give them as secure of a base, as secure of a feeling, as someone who is consistently available.”
One way to provide the consistency, Barto said, is with regular scheduling of everything from bedtime to family events. She said that can be as easy as eating dinner together.
“Special moments, where you can even just tune out everything else for just 10 minutes, and focus purely on one child at a time,” she said. “It does wonders for feeding that secure base. I think family dinners are a great example of that.”
A variety of resources for talking with children about tragedy can be found online at attachmentparenting.org.
Mary Anne Meyers contributed to this report.