Talking to Kids About the Tsunami Tragedy

When it comes to the "big questions" on life, death and justice, Steinberg suggests that it's best if parents pay attention to how much information a child is seeking.

"Parents tend to know their kids best and can judge how much of an explanation will satisfy them," said Steinberg. "For instance, if a child asks where do babies come from and if he's satisfied with the answer, 'mommies and daddies make babies,' there's no need for an explanation on fallopian tubes and sperm count."

Triggering Childhood Fears

While most experts maintain that children should not be overexposed to disastrous news and parents should control the time they spend before TV sets, they stress that it's important for parents to figure if a disaster triggers certain well-known childhood fears.

"If a situation is closer to children, it impacts them more," said Butterworth. "During an earthquake, if the ground shook, that could frighten them. If it happened at night, kids may be afraid to sleep alone. If something happens, children want their parents in sight."

Certainly the most affected children in the Asian tsunami disaster will be the youngsters who have experienced the tragedy; been physically injured or sick due to the ensuing exhaustion, malnutrition or bad hygiene; or have lost loved ones.

For children experiencing the calamity vicariously, it's important to give them a sense of perspective and hope.

For little Hannes, there has been a happy ending.

After Thai medical officials posted a picture of the boy on a Web site, an uncle in Sweden recognized him, flew down to Thailand and tracked down his injured father, Marko Karkkainen, at a hospital on the southern island of Phuket.

Although his mother is still missing, Hannes was reunited with his father after three days apart.

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