HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It’s a harsh reality of the world we live in – it seems we’re reporting on terror attacks more often than ever. It’s natural to want to shield our children from the news, but should we?
“Psychologists believe that we should be talking to our kids about these things. Our children are going to go to school, they’re going to hear about it from their teachers. Their friends might say something,” said Board Certified Behavior Analyst Lindsay Chapman.
Chapman says research shows children under five won’t have the capacity to understand and rationalize those fears, but above that age, open communication is key to ensuring your child feels safe. When the information comes from a parent, you’ll be able to control how much detail they learn.
“Instead of them getting it from a source that maybe you don’t want them to hear it from, or that might give them too many details, or details you don’t want them knowing,” said Chapman.
Horrible events can be a learning opportunity to teach children safety procedures and officials.
“Police officers, firefighters, paramedics. Who are the safe people to go to if something were to happen?” explained Chapman.
If your child has a learning disability, they might not be able to understand the capacity of terror, but it’s a good opportunity to remind them about your family’s safety plans and talk to their teachers about classroom procedures.
Young children seeing the news might think events like terror attacks in Belgium are happening right outside of their door, but it’s important to remind them how far away these places are.
Chapman says parents know their children better than anyone, so if you feel like the information is getting too heavy, take a break. Since images of violence can have lasting effects on kids, avoid showing them disturbing video, instead focus on facts and their feelings.
“Let your child know that they’re loved and they’re safe and know that you have a plan, there’s a plan of action and there are people that will help them if anything is to happen,” said Chapman.