How To Talk To Children About Terrorism



I was sitting with my daughter on the couch on Saturday.  She’s 10-years-old.  I knew she would hear about the Paris attacks at school from the other kids.  I wanted to be the one to tell her, so I carefully brought the subject up.  To my surprise, she already knew.  In retrospect, I should have realized that she already knew.  It was all over the television.  She didn’t have many questions for me, but wanted to be assured that we are safe.  I reminded her that she can always ask me anything.

Your own children might arrive home with questions after school this week.  Especially, if their friends are discussing the attacks in Paris.  “Don’t delay in telling your children,” says Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute.  Time published an article that gives an age by age guide to keep the discussion developmentally appropriate.

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Attacks in Paris:

A few other helpful articles:

The Dougy Center- Talking with Children About Tragic Events:

The Center for Grieving Children- How to Support a Child After a Tragedy:

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry- Talking to Children about Terrorism and War

National Association of School Psychologists:

I have learned a few facts from working with children.  First, children need to feel safe.  Second, they want to know the truth.  As adults, it’s only natural that we want to shield children from pain and loss.  Trust me- adults may cause more harm in hiding the facts.  That applies to all types of loss.  Third, kids often know more than we think.  (Hint: they listen to conversations when you don’t realize.  They are very sneaky that way!)  When I was a school counselor, I often heard from parents that their children didn’t know about situations going on at home.  Most of the time, the children did know what was happening and……..I already knew.


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