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Author Topic: Talking to Your Children About Terrorism  (Read 1637 times)

Brent

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Talking to Your Children About Terrorism
« on: Jan 16, 2006, 08:43:41 AM »
Talking to Your Children About Terrorism
by dr. robin f. goodman

     Kids ask lots of tough questions, but questions about acts of terrorism or war are some of the hardest to answer. When the news media provides immediate and graphic details, parents wonder if they should protect their children from the grim reality, explore the topic or share their personal beliefs.

     Adults also must reconcile the dilemma of advocating nonviolence while explaining terrorism and why nations maintain armies and engage in war.
     Contrary to parents' fears, talking about violent acts will not increase a child's fear. Having children keep scared feelings to themselves is more damaging than discussion.

     As with other topics, consider the age and level of understanding of the child when entering into a discussion. Even children as young as 4 know about violent acts, but all children may not know how to talk about their concerns. It often is necessary for parents to initiate the dialogue themselves. Asking children what they have heard or think is a good way to start.

     Adults should look for opportunities as they arise, for example when watching the news together. You also can look for occasions to bring up the topic of when relevant related topics arise. For example, when people in a television show are arguing. Discussion about larger issues such as tolerance, difference and nonviolent problem solving also can be stimulated by news. Learning about a foreign culture or region also dispels myths and, more accurately, points out similarities and differences.

     Far off violent events can stimulate a discussion of non-violent problem solving for problems closer to home. For instance, helping children negotiate how to share toys or take turns in the baseball lineup demonstrates productive strategies for managing differences. Older children may understand the issues when related to a community arguing over a proposed shopping mall. Effective ways of working out these more personal situations can assist in explaining and examining the remote violent situations.

     Adults also should respect a child's wish not to talk about particular issues until ready. Attending to nonverbal reactions, such as facial expression or posture, play behavior, verbal tone or content of a child's expression offer important clues to a child's reactions and unspoken need to talk.

     Answering questions and addressing fears does not necessarily happen all at once in one sit down session or one history lesson plan. New issues may arise or become apparent over time and thus discussion about war should be done on an ongoing and as-needed basis.


 

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