Terrorism: are our kids afraid?
Should you and how do you explain terrorism to kids?

I remember clearly when the attack of the World Trade Centre was broadcast all over the world in 2001. 

Read more: Kids react to European crisis

At the age of 14 watching the planes crash into the towers left me feeling somewhat scared but mostly confused.

I wasn't quite sure how to make sense of it all, mostly because it seemed like something from a Hollywood blockbuster movie, not a real life event.  

When I asked my mother what had happened one word stood out: "terrorism".

After this weekend's world events particularly in Paris, children have probably been raising the same sorts of questions with their parents. 

They might even be feeling anxious and scared over some of the news that was broadcast. 

Whether it was at home or at a friend's house your kids will probably have heard it on the news, seen some of the footage or overheard people talking about the Paris attacks this past weekend. 

Vote: Do you let your kids watch the news?

Even if your children are too young to really get what's going on, in a sense they're still being exposed to it. 

How do I explain terrorism to my kids?

We as adults understand what we read and see in the news but most of the time our kids don't. 

You might want to tell your child about what happened but you don't know where to begin. Here are some tips:  

  • Let your children's questions guide you. Based on the types of questions they ask you can judge what and how much they need to know. Explaining too much can traumatise them if they're not fully mature enough to understand it all. 
  • If you're not yet able to talk openly with your child about death then you'll have to be selective of what exactly you tell them. If your child is old enough to accept and understand that death is a permanent thing then you'll be able to go into more detail but make sure you're sensitive towards their feelings towards it. 
  • If they're old enough be honest and explain to your kids that terrorism is something violent that is meant to hurt and scare people to achieve a political goal. 
  • Use another terrorist attack as an example of terrorism. The attacks on September 11 were some of the worst acts of terrorism the world has seen. 
  • Illustrate what you're trying to explain by drawing pictures, diagrams, timelines and use the Internet to further educate your child if you feel you need another source. 

Turn the conversation into a positive one

  • Talk about why we don't hurt people, what to do if we see someone hurt and how to avoid being hurt by someone.
  • Reassure your child that they're safe and that it is unlikely to happen to them. 
  • Explain what is being done to keep them safe.
  • Be careful of waddling too much into politics unless you can objectively explain the history involved.  
  • Insist that disasters like this don't happen often. 
  • Talk about light-hearted, more positive news as a breaker.
  • Try to stay as objective as possible and don't split the situation into a "us vs them" scenario. 

How do you explain your child's questions about the recent Paris attacks? Send us your comment to chatback@parent24.com

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