QUINCY – In the aftermath of a terrorist attack targeting young concertgoers in England, a South Shore clinical psychologist said consistency and age-appropriate language are critical when talking to children about what happened.
Barbara Green, a licensed clinical psychologist and the medical director of South Shore Hospital’s Youth Health Connection, said it’s important that parents and other adult family members coordinate their response and overall message to children’s questions and concerns.
“It’s important that there’s unity, steadiness and consistency on how we are guiding children and teens,” said Green, who co-founded the Center for Integrative Counseling and Wellness in Hingham and the Division of Psychiatry and Psychology at South Shore Hospital.
News of the suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people and injuring dozens of others, many of whom were children and young adults, consumed news broadcasts and social media on Tuesday.
Green said parents should make sure they get their own thoughts and feelings together before responding to their children. She said it’s usually best to let them raise questions instead of brining it up first.
“It’s critical to not over talk with young child about it and to keep information age appropriate,” she said.
With adolescents and young adults, Green said the attack provided an opportunity to talk about broader world issues, including terrorism and acceptance of differences.
Green said it’s also important to normalize heightened security measures and choose language carefully. Metal detectors, for example, aren’t used to find weapons, but to make sure people don’t have anything with them that they shouldn’t.
“We need to assure them of their safety and that we are making sure and taking steps to keep them safe,” she said.
Green said parents should make an extra effort to be “connected and observant,” and to keep an eye out for behavioral changes and signs of distress, such as a change in sleeping habits.
Jessica Trufant may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.