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Talking with kids about the tragedy in Boston

Neighbors hug outside the home of the Richard family in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Martin Richard, 8, was killed in Mondays bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Witnessing the Boston Marathon attacks or seeing the images afterward can be hard on adults, but for kids it can be even more confusing.

As much as you may want to shield your children from terrible events, they often will find out about them from TV, the Internet, or friends at school.

Psychologist Dr. Micah McCreary tells WTVR you just have to meet your child where they are. Ask them if they have questions, then answer with honest, open responses.

"Let them know that this is really a safe world, a safe environment. Bad things happen by bad people, but that's a part of life," says Dr. McCreary. "You grow to be strong. It helps give you character. It builds you."

He suggests including your kids' friends in the conversation, several of them at a time if your child tends to be very social.

Adults are seen as authority figures. McCreary says people, especially children, tend to learn more about how to contextualize things from their peers. But he says, an adult should be there to guide the conversation and answer questions that might come up.

It doesn't matter how old your kids are. McCreary says he has a grown daughter who lives in Boston, so there were more than a few tense moments in his home Monday.

Her cell phone wasn't working for hours. She finally got word to her parents by email to let them know she was OK.

"But my wife and her, I noticed when I woke up this morning (Tuesday) at 4:30, were still on the phone talking," says McCreary, "It's that conversation that really gets us through tough times."

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also has a guideline for talking with kids on their website.

More on the act of terror in Boston:
City's signature events on the mind of Seattle mayor
A hero in Boston: Meet the man in the cowboy hat
Precautions police take to prevent terror attacks at major events

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