Terrorist Aftermath: Trauma
Talking with Your Kids About
Terrorism and the Events of September 11, 2001
President, Children Now
arrangement with www.drkoop.com
All of us are traumatized by
the events of September 11th. As we
struggle to make sense of it all and go on with our daily lives, it's important
to pay special attention to our children, who also are impacted by the terrible
tragedies they see and hear being discussed around them and on the news.
are a number of guidelines for talking with your kids about what they see in the
news, which apply whether the topic is a school shooting or a devastating
a recent piece on how to talk with your kids about the news, the Talking with
Kids About Tough Issues campaign (http://www.talkingwithkids.org) emphasizes the
importance of being honest, considering age appropriateness, providing context,
sharing your own feelings, and initiating -- not waiting for -- these
conversations to take place.
addition to these tips, here are some specific suggestions for talking with your
kids about terrorism and the tragic events of September 11, 2001:
Ask your kids about
their feelings. Assure them
it is normal to feel angry, confused, sad
By hurting people and places we care about, terrorists communicate anger
and create fear. They want to disrupt our normal lives, but we re going to
do our best not to let that happen.
We re going to keep working, learning, loving because those are the things
that we do best every day and that really matter.
Assure them about
safety. Acknowledge that this
was an attack on the United States and that for all of us, this feels
different than other bad things that have happened before. At
the same time, our government, caring adults like teachers and law
enforcement and you, as parents, are going to do everything we can to
assure our safety. We can
never be 100% certain that something like this won t happen to us, but the
odds are overwhelming that it will not.
When we can know in advance that there s even a small chance of danger, we
will take precautions to keep our kids safe.
Pay attention to the
home environment. Do your
best to control the home environment, so that your children are not
overexposed to television, to adult conversation that might be too big for
them, to strong feelings that they might not understand or which could
upset them. Try to
re-establish your home routine as much as possible.
Recognize all of the
good that is coming out in people.
These kinds of tragedies also bring out the good in people, from the lines
of people giving blood, to the calm so many people
demonstrated in crisis, to the heroism of fire fighters and law
Accept all of your
children's feelings unconditionally.
Each child will be different. Some will want to talk, others will want to
be distracted. Check in with
your child and accept where he or she is at.
Now, a child policy and advocacy organization, coordinates the national Talking
with Kids About Tough Issues campaign (http://www.talkingwithkids.org) with the