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Talking with Children about Terrorism

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America have captured the attention of adults nationwide. But, children are watching too.

Judith Myers-Walls, human development expert at Purdue University, prepared some tips for adults in helping children put such emotionally charged events into perspective.
· Assume children know about what is happening
· Help young people feel loved and safe
· Listen to and answer questions
· Share your feelings
· Support children’s concern for people they do not know
· Encourage them to express a full range of emotions
· Reestablish routine
· Help children express their feelings creatively
· Encourage young people to take some course of action
· Take action with them
Children are constantly exposed to news and information and likely know what is happening. Not talking about the attacks may communicate that the subject is “taboo,” Myers-Walls wrote.
Myers-Walls suggested taking action with children by writing letters, raising money or getting involved in charity organizations.
“Children who know that their parents, teachers, or other significant caregivers are working to make a difference feel hope. They feel safer and more positive about the future,” Myers-Walls wrote. “So do something. It will make you feel more hopeful, too. And hope is one of the most valuable gifts we can give children and ourselves.”