This is an important question as no matter how we try to shield them from the terrors of this cruel world we live in they will eventually ask the question of 'what is terrorism'?...
Despite our efforts there is not much that goes past a child these days, with social media and news reports and adult conversations they will eventually figure out something is not quite right in the air.
There are many support pages available (of which I will try to link at the bottom of this article) to get information on how to talk to children about terrorism and war, and I will be spending some time looking through some pages and digest some of the information, as I am sure with the widespread news of terrorism since the recent attacks that will be hitting the twinnies ears over the coming days and weeks, I want to be prepared to support them on their quest and questions for information and answers.
I can also learn a thing or two along on my way and devise some interesting lesson plans to incorporate into the discussion and come up with some good projects which I will of course share in due course.(***UPDATE - Our What is a Terrorist Lapbook you can find here)
Kate Kemp-Griffin is a Canadian who has been living in France since 1989. One of her friends, the mother of some of her children's friends, was killed in the attack and Kate states 'We have to digest the information and understand what is going on and then translate this to the children in a way that is real but not something that instils fear'. You can hear the interview here
Some good advice comes from David Balwdin's Trauma Information Page which states 'A complete explanation may not be entirely possible or easy, but we must try. We must find a balance on the one hand between helping a child feel safe and on the other acknowledging the existence of violence, evil, and danger in the world.
His points include the following:-
First, . Wait for them to ask first and don't give more details than necessary.
Second, Think through our own understanding of what happened, as difficult as that might be. It is important to say that we really don't know the people involved or their circumstances. We only know a few oversimplified images selected by media. This is a chance to discuss with children how to evaluate what they see in the media and how important it is to know a lot more before making judgements. It is also a chance to discuss politics, prejudice, and the use of violence to solve problems or resolve disputes. A discussion of faith and morality can include how evil can coexist with good in this world and how we make our choices. How to respond to the survivors, victims, and families involved on a tangible human level (great projects.) and how we feel about what should happen to the perpetrators are other discussion topics.
Third, in contrast, children can be then helped to remember and identify how much safety there is in their lives, how much they know about their own parents' love and devotion to them. They can review good times, birthdays, Christmases and Thanksgivings. They can be reminded of getting hugs when feeling down, ill or injured. They can be assured that when a parent is angry, it is self limiting and passes quickly. This is a chance to discuss with children how anger can be a normal feeling and describe appropriate ways of expressing it. With older children who can understand finer distinctions you can discuss how a healthy relationship is one in which rifts can repaired and healed.
I will begin my quest and make additions of resources as I go along to the list below.
- How to talk to children about terrorism and violence quick tips from Quick and Dirty Tips.com
- 10 Tips for talking to your kids about terrorism from a pediatric mental health expert
- Scripture Union - talking about War and terrorism
- Purple Waggon
- Ready for emergencies - (this is my personal favourite)