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Talking to Kids About the Bridge

August 13, 2007

Recovery efforts continue this morning on the collapsed I-35-W bridge. Several people are still missing, and the clean-up continues. Images of the scene have had wide coverage, and University of Minnesota Extension Family Educator Rose Allen says it's important parents of young kids help them understand.

"Watch your children carefully to see how they are responding. If they're not talking about it, it's probably a good idea for you to say 'Gee, what do you think about this?'"

She encourages parents to help kids know that, while unexpected things sometimes happen, they are safe and loved, and to give them a chance to talk about their feelings.

Allen adds that it's important for parents explain what happened, put it in context, and reassure their children.

"It's balancing helping kids understanding the reality of this with helping kids understand that this is something that is a very rare event."

She also notes that parents need to make sure they can distinguish between the fantasy violence of some TV shows and video games, and real life situations. Children take their cues from how adults react.

"For very young kids, I don't think you have to worry, as long as your response to the bridge is reasonable as well. Kids probably pick up more on our emotions than on the actual event. And so, if this is something that, as an adult, we become very upset about, our kids are certainly going to pick up on that."

Nine victims have been recovered. Over 40 cars were removed from the river over the weekend.

More online at www.extension.umn.edu.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN