Terrorism and your child
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Syndicated column from The Parent
[NOV. 4, 2005]
Q: It seems like terrorism is always in the
news. It's difficult to escape the images on TV of cars and buses
being blown up and injured people carted off on stretchers. Do you
have any suggestions on how we can address the subject with our son?
A: Your son, like many
adults, may be confused or frightened by the news of terrorist
attacks. He may be hearing unfamiliar words in the news. He may also
be confusing reality with some of the fantasy he's seen on TV and
videos. With good reason, your son will be looking to you for
The first thing you can do is to establish a sense of safety and
security for your child. As news continues to be broadcast about
horrible events such as these, be aware of how he is absorbing the
news. Find a quiet time to listen to his anxieties. As you tuck him
in to bed at night is often a good opportunity.
Here are some steps you can take to reassure your son:
Take your son's fears seriously. Listen carefully to
what your son tells you. When possible, reassure him -- but do
not lie or deny that terrible things have happened. Tell your
son that security checks and other measures are being taken to
protect people. Remind him that school officials, federal law
enforcement officers and emergency care workers are all working
together to keep people safe.
- Talk about what your son could do in the event of a
disaster. Talk to him about the following:
- How to recognize danger -- smoke, a fire alarm, a stranger.
- How to call for help. Can your son reach the telephone? Does
he know how to call 911? Does your child know his name and
address? Role-play some of these situations until he feels
comfortable with the procedures.
- Whom to go to if something should happen to family members.
Make arrangements with a neighbor to help in the event of an
[to top of second column in this article]
Watch news reports and look at the newspaper together
with your son. If the news about a tragedy is particularly
frightening, use your judgment about limiting his access to TV
coverage and newspaper photos. Monitor what he sees about the
tragedy on the Internet.
Talk calmly about the disaster.
Your son will pick up
clues from you about how to respond in a difficult situation. He
will feel safer if you remain calm.
- Get additional help if necessary. Many schools have
counselors to help children in times of stress. Your child's
teacher is trained to talk with children about fearful
situations. Your school's principal will also be a good source
of assistance. And don't forget grandparents, clergy and other
caring adults in your child's life.
Find more information on how to help your child from the National
Association of School Psychologists at
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
Copyright 2005, The Parent
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.