Blog: Talking to Children About Terrorism

The trauma experienced from terrorist attacks will provoke a range of immediate and delayed emotional reactions in both adults and children. These may include anxiety, depression, rage, insomnia, nightmares and irritability.
Here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind:
  • Tailor your comments to the child’s age, maturity and ability to understand.
  • Do what you can to buffer them from the constant media coverage that follows events like these; this tends to get people (children, too) anxious.
  • Lessen their anxiety with reassurances, for example, reminding them that this kind of thing is unlikely to happen where we are and we will do everything we can so that it will not happen anywhere. We as parents and other grownups are going to be especially careful to keep everyone safe.
  • Some sense of constructive action can also be helpful. For adults, this might take the form of donations (money, blood, expertise, etc.). It can help children to know that their parents are doing what they can to help. Some children may have ideas of their own on how they may help, and we can support them in these efforts. 
  • Encourage children to talk and share what they have understood of what they've heard and what they are feeling.