Parenting: Discussing Terror Attacks with Your Kids

    The most recent string of terror attacks, especially the concert bombing in Britain, renew a challenging question for parents. We can’t shield our kids from everything, so how do we talk about it?

    FOX’s Lisa Brady reports in this week’s ‘FOX on Family’:

    Today’s children are growing up in a post 9/11 world:

    (Martin) “Their whole life has been about this type of thing on the news.”

    But the recent bombing at an Ariana Grande concert may have hit home with young fans. So how do you talk to your kids about terrorism?

    Clinical counselor Rhonda Martin says for young children, keep it brief and calm:

    (Martin) “Everything about it should be calm and that is gonna be the message that the child gets. Is how mom or dad appear to be doing. How confident and cool and collected they are.”

    She says third to sixth graders take comfort in labeling it a terror attack, then moving on. For pre-teens, an emphasis on Grande’s return to Manchester and a safe benefit concert. And older teens often want to be heard:

    (Martin) “Just listen to them. I mean listen, listen, listen. You probably don’t need to say a whole lot back. Just make sure they have a opportunity to process it.”

    Martin says a teachable moment can be reassuring; always knowing two exits for instance. But above all she says don’t let the negative dominate. Go and do something your child loves to do. Bring the joy.

    With FOX on Family, I’m Lisa Brady.

    Martin notes that talking about a terror attack may not be appropriate for a child with anxiety or mental health issues. Otherwise, the level and type of information depends on their age. She says in general highlighting their own personal safety can be reassuring–that the attack wasn’t as close as it may seem. Also emphasizing that an incident is over, even if the news cycle makes it appear that it’s ongoing. Martin also says you can tell whether your child is processing an event in a healthy way if there are no significant changes in their sleeping, eating, mood and social behavior. Rhonda Martin is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor based in Ohio, specializing in family and children’s services.