Deep Bench: Teaching your young kids about sympathy for those affected by tragedy

(WZAW) -- The events of Sept. 11, 2001 are burned into many of our memories, although for those who were very young or not even born yet, it's difficult for them to comprehend just how the tragedy impacted a person's life and emotions.

Dr. Brian Weiland, a clinical psychologist from Behavioral Health Clinic, joined the Deep Bench on Wednesday to talk about the best way to teach them about sympathy on something they haven't experienced for themselves.

"It's hard enough for even adults to comprehend the magnitude of everything that happened. So we think about a child who's not developmentally at that place, so they can really grasp the magnitude, absolutely it's very difficult," he said.

What makes it even more difficult, Dr. Weiland said, is finding the right language to describe what happened and how people were affected by it.

"There are people who were affected directly by it, who were there.Then there's this separation of 'that's over there, I'm over here. I'm in the comfort of my own home.' And I think in a lot of ways, your brain is trying to protect you."

He said the best way to teach young children how to sympathize when tragedies like 9/11 occurs, when they weren't around for it, is to find something relative that they understand personally.

"Like, 'Hey Sally, do you remember when our dog Fido passed away? That was really hard for you and it was pretty sad. You loved Fido, so imagine that happening to thousands of people all at once.' So getting the child to empathize or sympathize with the gravity of it all."