How to Talk to Children about Terrorism*
Children need to talk about their feelings and to have information that they can understand.
- Be attentive and listen to the feelings that your child is communicating.
- Acknowledge, and normalize the statements your child is making.
- Be neutral. Don't judge or criticize.
- When providing information, make clear, factual, simple statements about what, when, who and why.
- It is okay to say: "I don't know".
Talking is good for us. It helps us feel better and to think together.
- Talk about what is going on, and how it makes you feel.
- Adults need to be honest about their feelings, too.
- "I'm scared." "It makes me feel sad."
- Reassure children about your plans to make them safer.
It is important for adults to understand how children communicate what they feel.
- Children often use behaviors as their primary way of communicating their feelings.
- Adults can teach children how to recognize how they feel, and to put feelings into words.
Children know something is changing even if we do not tell them.
- Children know from our non-verbal communication that something is different.
Acknowledge it. Initiate discussion.
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and concerns.
Be an example of how to talk about what you feel. Be honest.
- Provide reassurance.
For many people, doing something makes us feel better. What can we do?
- For many of us, taking action and having a plan helps us feel better.
- Reassure children that you and other adults are taking steps to make ourselves safer in our homes, our communities and in our schools.
- It is important for everyone in your family to know your family plan and to know what they can do to help.
- Families can enlist the help of children in developing and/ or practicing your family plan.
What adults can do to help children cope.
- Pay attention to the way children are behaving and view changes as an opportunity to find out more about what is going on with them.
- Be aware of your own reactions. Limit exposure to TV and News Programs.
- Keep a normal routine and schedule.
- Help children find the solutions that work for them.
- Ask: How can I help you do what you need to do so you can feel safer, too?
- If problems persist, and interfere with the child's ability to function, call a professional.
*Crisis Intervention Service Morristown Memorial Hospital Atlantic Behavioral Health