Upbringing Your Child

What Do You Say to Your Children About Terrorism?

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tv violence 300x224 What Do You Say to Your Children About Terrorism?Here is a story I’d like to share. My aunt watches the news every day before she goes to bed. As her children are on vacation, they’re usually found hanging around the TV. While putting her 7-year-old son to bed, he wouldn’t let go of her hand. My aunt asked if something was wrong, he began sobbing and quietly asked if she was going to die like the people on TV. My aunt staggered at his remark and all she could think of was to embrace him and convince him that she won’t.

The bombing, target killing and the very popular ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ are a part of our daily lives today. The current events and repetitive scenes of destruction of life and property are featured in the media every day. As a result, many of us who were once marked with confusion and fury for weeks now grieve for a while and try to forget. As parents, we absorb a multitude of these feelings. But when it comes to our children, what do we say to them about terrorism? Is it possible to shield children away from anything related to violence at all times? What is the best possible explanation to help children understand such cruelty in a manner they feel safe and comforted?

Continuous reassurance, care and guidance

Terrorism affects everyone in one way or the other. It’s practically impossible to keep news away from children. Parents are constantly protecting them to let them feel secure, especially given the recent events where most surroundings have become dangerous to travel to. It’s particularly daunting to families who have suffered a loss or who have experienced acts of terrorism to someone close to them.

Level of Acceptance

Scared Child at Nighttime 240x300 What Do You Say to Your Children About Terrorism?

In order to talk to your child about terrorism, it is important you understand whether he or she can differentiate between the actual news reports and various entertainment shows. Once you’re able to assess your child’s level of understanding, then you can start sharing the facts and discuss your child’s concerns. They will either verbally express their feelings or ideas or choose a different medium such as drawing, painting or writing.

You can tell your child to look at the positive side- not everyone hurt others. There are several who help those injured during terrorist attacks. Children can benefit from such encouragement to help victims directly or indirectly, they can draw posters or write letters or make scrapbooks and cards of support.

Positive Reactions over Negative Actions

It’s difficult to handle young adults during traumatic events, especially boys since such incidents may shake their confidence. Teenagers are far more knowledgeable than adolescents and their anxiety levels are at a higher level- they can understand the nature of the attacks and causes. They worry about the consequences that propels them to take actions against the wrong doers and this can eventually lead to some immature activities that can be harmful. It’s the parent’s responsibility to guide them in the right way to show their concerns as responsible citizens. They can choose positive measures such as collecting money, clothes and food for sufferers or attend a peaceful protest, a march or the victims’ namaz-e-janaza.

Continuous Exposure to Violence

In today’s world, children are continuously being exposed to numerous forms of violence. Entertainment shows, cartoons and video games makes it difficult for them to understand the cost of life. However, this doesn’t mean that children cannot be frightened or anxious at all. If the child shows a regressive behavior, has an aggressive or withdrawn attitude, complains of having nightmares, then it certainly means he or she needs your attention.

Children may be hesitant to share their fears and at times they are not even aware of how they are being affected by terrorism which is much more damaging in the long run. It is wise to have an open discussion with children while being careful to not make any generalizations about groups or individuals. 

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