Man I hate Kansas.
Take your kids through dark parts of 'Deathly Hallows'
Communication with your child is critical.
BY HOWARD COHEN
Here are some tips from South Florida experts Daniel Armstrong and Mitch Spero in coping with whatever lurks inside "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
• Don't minimize the loss just because it's make-believe. "The first book came out in 1997," Spero says. "If a child started reading them at 10 they would be 20 now. They have basically grown and matured and yet still maintain that storyline."
• Communicate openly with your child before and after reading the book.
• Children may have intrusive thoughts about a character's death even while engaging in fun activities. If there is a reaction "don't label it as an overreaction, but recognize that everyone has their own reactions to loss," Spero says. "If it truly reaches a point where it kicks up other losses, it may be the tip of the iceberg for someone who is anxious or depressed."
• In general, a child of 6 begins to understand that death is permanent, Spero says. Prior, a loved one could die and the child may still wonder if that individual will show up for dinner or a family gathering. Understand that each child is unique.
• "Harry Potter" is elective reading, not a classroom assignment, so the impact of the story could have added meaning. "Parents will need to have a straightforward discussion with children about death and dying as a part of life," Armstrong says, "but that it's not something that is confronting them in their family at "that" point in time."
• Go ahead, stand in line with the kids at the bookstore Friday night. Rejoice, kids are excited over "reading" a book as opposed to playing mind-numbing video games.
"Would we anticipate that this is going to have profound psychological consequences for most children? Probably not," Armstrong says. "That's a message parents can give children. It's a story... . Sometimes they make us happy. Sometimes sad. This one made us sad and we move on."