The recent events which have been so prevalent in our news and conversations over the past few days can create fear and anxiety for children. Children are magical thinkers. Their imaginations often elaborate on tidbits of information. Here are some tips for helping your children manage the information that may be coming their way.
PUT IT IN CONTEXT:
Children may not realize that "bad people" are just a small percentage of all people. Use concrete examples to explain this concept. Ask your child to guess how many drops of water are in a rain barrel or a lake. Then explain that, in comparison, just one or two of those drops would be the "bad people". The rest of the barrel is everyone else.
FOLLOW THEIR LEAD:
Take your child's lead regarding the amount of information that they know or want. For younger children, you may want to keep them relatively unaware. Many of the concepts related to terrorism and ideological differences are difficult for young children to comprehend. For older children, find out what they have heard and then allow them to ask questions. Educate them about global geography. Help them understand a bit about the cultures and beliefs in different countries. Teach them about human rights. If you don't know the answers, take time with your child to research.
In general, education is the key to understanding. Understanding can create a feeling of security. If we can support our children to learn about issues, they can feel more empowered and less afraid.