How to Talk About Terrorism With Your Children

Create a safe environment for your child at home where it is OK to ask questions. By listening carefully to what your child says, you can reassure him or her and explain any misconceptions. Stress to the child that he or she is safe and keep daily activities as close to normal as possible. Pay attention to how much television your child is watching. You may want to turn off the television or at least watch it together and talk about what you see.

*Be honest about the situation. Give your children information at their own level and put it in context. Explain that even though frightening things happen to children every once in awhile, most children go about their day with no harm. Don’t describe unlikely scenarios that would unnecessarily frighten your children.

*It helps to know what information your child is getting. Monitor their exposure to television reports, and help explain what they see if they do watch television. Ask them what they are hearing at school and, if necessary, give them factual information to dispel rumors they are hearing from others.

*Limit the amount of exposure to violent movies, videos, or computer games. The impact of violence for children is cumulative. *Understand that children of different ages react differently. Younger children may react by showing more separation anxiety when their parents leave them at daycare or school. Older children may present a rough exterior or act out aggressive behavior.

Adults can, however, reassure children that adults will do everything they can to keep the children safe. The adults can then describe the safety precautions they are taking. This is honest and realistic, and often this is the reassurance that children need. It is important for parents to take action as well. Children who see their parents take action are likely to learn that there is hope and that it is possible to be optimistic about the future.

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