How to explain to children the news of a terrorist attack

The news of terrorist attacks and other tragedies startle us cyclically every so often and leave no one indifferent. With each of these news, families are exposed to an overwhelming amount of information and images about the event. And as Ángels Ponce, an expert in Family Therapy says, "the effect that this type of news has on a child is much greater and more intense than on an adult".

Because we can not isolate children from the world around them, the youngest children attend the display of information about the events that are accompanied by images of bombings, sunken houses, earthquakes and, in addition, listen to the elderly in the house talk about it, they see it on television, in the newspapers ...


"This information has a great effect on children, so as far as possible, it is advisable to protect them from what they can not understand or can scare them," says Ángels Ponce. Exposure to this type of content can cause something to repeat itself in your head. This is the case of photographs of bloodied people or victims.

What's wrong dad?

Typically, they ask the meaning of the words they hear or want to know what is happening. Faced with this situation, parents must respond, but taking into account aspects such as age or the proximity of the tragedy. The little ones will not need to talk too much about what happened, unless we worry about knowing what they have felt, but as they grow up, they will need more explanations and information, and we must know how to explain the violence in the world to children.


"Speaking is important, but it is not mandatory to give more details than necessary, simple explanations are the best for children," advises the therapist. A good starting point to start the conversation is to ask them how they feel or what they are worried about. Faced with events that have occurred near home, they can be explained that it has nothing to do with them, or that they are out of danger, that there are people who will help them or guarantee their safety, as well as that all the victims are well.

The importance of transmitting security

In situations such as terrorist attacks, adults can experience emotions ranging from fear to anxiety. It must be taken into account, as Ángels Ponce points out, that "children can be affected both by what they see and hear directly and by the response they observe from the adults around them". Therefore, it is essential that they transmit security.


Maintaining the daily routine of their daily lives will also give them a sense of security and protection, even though they need extra care, "whatever is necessary so that they can feel that we are at their side to protect them", says the expert. .

Marisol Nuevo Espín
Advice: Àngels Ponce. Family therapist within the disability environment, coach and specialist in grief processes

Video: CNN: Explaining terrorism to kids


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