Over the weekend the world was rocked by the terrorist attacks on
Paris. While the politicians try to figure out their next move, yours should be talking to your kids about what happened. The images are everywhere, and there is likely to be comments about it in school, so before your child hears misinformation, it’s best to sit down and calmly discuss what happened. (NOTE: Pre-school children and younger are the only ones who, if they don’t ask questions, do not need to be spoken to unless you feel the need.)
How can you bring the Paris attacks up in conversation?
Again, your child has likely seen news on television, heard a comment from a friend or read something on the internet, and he/she will ask you questions about going on. That is the perfect time to start the dialogue.
Should you tell your child everything?
It’s not necessary to get very specific. It’s likely that your child is looking for more comfort than statistics. And while it’s always good to be truthful, you can get away by simply saying “fighters attacked Paris,” or “a very sad event happened in Paris and many people are hurt.” Be sure not to lie to your child and make sure they understand the basic information.
What vocabulary should you avoid?
Staying away from words like: extremists, bloodbath, carnage. These words are likely to scare a child because, well, they are scary words… and they necessarily can’t understand their meaning.
What vocabulary should you use?
Again, keep the summary of events simple. You can use words like sad and hurt, but not to excess. Again, depending on age, you can be a little more flexible with adult verbiage.
What shouldn’t you do?
Regardless of your personal beliefs or anxieties, you need to make sure your child knows that peace is the best course of action and that they are safe. If you’re personally feeling stressed out or concern, speak to another adult or seek professional help, do not unload it onto your child. Also, there is no need to name calling or hateful speech.
What should you do?
Answer all their questions to the best of your ability. And also keep reiterating that they are safe and you are here to protect them. You can also let them know that thousands of men and women are protecting them and their siblings as well. Make them feel comforted and always make time to talk to them if they need it.
It’s best to keep your routines normal. Mornings, afternoon and evenings shouldn’t change normal course. Also, limit media exposure if possible. The images the children will see might frighten them. And finally, be sure to watch out for any stress or anxiety within your child. Be sure to talk to a psychologist if necessary.