It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the tenth anniversary of September 11th. You may have noticed all of the recent 9/11 documentaries that have been featured on many cable networks but with all of media coverage, it may seems nearly impossible to keep the images of that horrific day from them. So what should you do if your young child stumbles across footage or photos of that fateful day?

Here are some tips to reassure your children when they’re exposed to frightening news about war or terrorism.

Listen to your child and acknowledge their feelings

  • ·       Anxiety and worry is the most common emotional response to frightening events or news.  Your children feel value when you listen to what they have to say or how they feel.  Don’t wait for them to come to approach you, instead you start the conversation.  Ask them what they understand about 9/11 and how they feel about it.  Be sure to share your feelings as your kids look to you for your reactions and know that they are not alone.
  • ·       Answer their questions truthfully in a calm and clear manner. Make sure to make your answers age appropriate and spare them the gory details.
  • ·       Encourage them to talk openly about what scares them. Many kids have the facts wrong or may think they are unsafe.

Watching the media coverage

  • ·       Don’t let them watch the news alone.  Watch the news with your kids to filter inappropriate or frightening stories.  Young children do not understand the news so it may be difficult to comprehend what they are watching.
  • ·       Discuss current events with your child regularly. It’s important to help kids think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? These questions can encourage conversation about non-news topics too.
  • ·       Make sure they understand the difference between fact and fantasy.  Put news stories in proper context. Showing that certain events are isolated or explaining how one event relates to another helps kids make better sense of what they hear.

Do something positive – help them maintain a sense of control

  • ·       Talk about what you can do to help. In the case of a news event like a 9/11, kids may gain a sense of control and feel more secure if you find ways to help those who have been affected.
  • ·       Broaden the discussion from a disturbing news item to a larger conversation: Use the story of 9/11 as an opportunity to talk about philanthropy, cooperation, and the ability of people to cope with overwhelming hardship.
  • ·       Be sure to share what is being done to keep them safe and who to thank for keeping us safe.


Video for kids to watch about 911: