Talking to children about terrorism

- This is supposed to be a joyous time of the year, but news of terrorist attacks is tough to avoid. So, what does that mean for kids? How do we make sure they aren't absorbing too many distrubing details?

Just a momentary glance at the news events in Paris can be frightening, and when it's a story dominating the news, there's a real possibility that a child will become fearful or anxious about what they've seen on TV.

"We definitely know that watching it, watching more on TV, and anxiety are definitely related, so limiting their exposure can be helpful," says Dr. Katherine Lamparyk, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

She adds that while some kids will express their fears openly, some are more subtle and will instead show fear by wanting to sleep with the lights on, or complain of headaches or stomach aches.

According to the doctor how a child responds to fear is relative to their age, and parents should take a child's age into consideration when asking about their fears.

For children of all ages, Dr. Lamparyk advises parents to minimize the amount of exposure but not to completely avoid it, and to address their fears instead of brushing them off.

"Instead of just telling them, 'Oh don't worry,' and providing simple reassurance but to actually tell them why they shouldn't be worried or how much worry there should be, and using probability and using statistics and using facts to help support that," she suggests.

Dr. Lamparyk also stresses that when talking to children about their fears and anxieties about any topic, it is important to let the child lead the discussion and for the parent to follow the child's lead.
 

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