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How to Help Our Children Deal With the Terror of Terrorism

Parenting children and teens in a world where terrorism exists is challenging.

Ezra Katz/WikiMedia
Source: Ezra Katz/WikiMedia

Once again regular people are living regular lives and then the unthinkable happens — people get killed and badly injured as a result of terrorism.

Our kids are living their regular lives and then are bombarded with news of bombs, death, and terrorism. We want to stay informed so the news is on, the radio is on, the Internet news feeds are constant. We need to know why this happened, who did it, and that we are safe. It is not going to happen here, right?

While we are staying informed, whether we are trying to or not, our kids are getting “informed” too. Trust me, nothing about this information is helpful to them to hear over and over again. The messages spread fear, insecurity, vulnerability, anxiety, and sadness.

Families went to a concert and sports event, and now many are dead. Period.

How do we explain the unexplainable and the unimaginable to our children?

It is important to think about your child’s age and maturity.

Young Children

Keep young children away from the television. Understand that they see and hear everything. Seeing the planes crash into the Twin Towers over and over traumatized children, young and old.

Middle-Aged Children

Think about your middle-aged children’s level of maturity and desire to understand what's happening in the world. Many don’t yet want to know. Preserve their innocence. They don’t need to know about death, horror, and evil now. They will have plenty of opportunities to find out later. It is unfortunately part of life.

Older Children

Your older children may be curious and such tragedies may be an opportunity for discussion. These discussions may include why people do these things, what are the beliefs of terrorists that lead them to commit such horrible acts, and how it is important for us to cherish all of life’s moments because life is unpredictable and all we really have is the present moment.

For all children, regardless of age, understand that they may need more reassurance during this time. Sit with them, read with them, and cuddle with them. If they want another chapter or “a few more minutes” before you leave their room — stay. Give them the reassurance and comfort they are looking for. Help them feel safe “right now.” All of these things will help them find their previous balance and belief about their safety — until the next thing happens. When it does, do it all again.

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