PORTLAND – The celebrations over Osama bin Laden’s death can be confusing for children, experts warn, and it’s good advice to talk to kids about it, even if they don’t bring it up themselves.
From the White House lawn to New York City and even Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, crowds were cheering over Osama’s death like their team had just won a big game.
One could only imagine what runs through a child’s mind when watching or hearing about this type of scene.
Providence Portland psychologist Dr. James Mall told KGW that around age nine, most children start to understand that death is irreversible. He said that’s why it’s very important to talk in clear and concrete terms to these older children about Osama’s death, avoiding abstract concepts.
Mall suggested that parents could start by explaining who bin Laden was and why people think he’s such a bad guy. Most importantly, he said, parents should follow their children’s lead.
“Generally speaking, that's a really important strategy. If your child is interested, curious, confused, it’s often most useful to wait until your child initiates the questions or conversation and then follow their lead with the types of question and the kind of depth at which you might address the subject,” he said.
But if your child does not ask questions, Mall said parents should bring it up in general terms – like asking, “Have you heard about Osama bin Laden?” and let children know you are available to answer any specific questions they may have.