Paris, Brussels, and who knows where next. Our world is full of bad news stories and little ears hear a lot more even when we try to shelter them. Explaining terrorism doesn’t have to be a chore as a parent.
It doesn’t even have to be scary.
But in today’s world, I would argue that it’s necessary to approach the topics, even casually. Yes, even with really young kids. As we get more comfortable as parents, we can dig deeper, discuss safety options, and more.
Listen to the podcast episode while you read more below.
Extremely Good Parenting Podcast EP. 009 Show Notes
How to explain terrorism to kids
The worst thing we can do as parents is disregard the concerns our kids have or to avoid the questions and anxieties our kids have over certain topics.
We want to teach our kids they can trust us and that we’re always there for them and are a safe place. And being an open book means they won’t search for answers elsewhere… and that’s whether they’re little or teens.
Create a Safe Environment at Home.
This can just be with communication like in the previous point, but it can also mean having locks, alarms, and codes as needed and teaching your children about them so they know they’re always safe at home with you.
Emphasize relative Distance of Terrorist Events.
I was a child when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened and I lived in Oklahoma. But nearly 2 hours away. Give your child an understanding of how far away it is.
- “Remember how long it took our family to drive from our house to Disney world on vacation? It would take 5 trips that long to get to where it happened.”
- “You know how long it takes to fly to grandma’s house? It was that far away!”
- “There is an entire ocean between us and where this event occurred!”
Even more discussion ideas in the podcast episode above.
Ways to teach basic public safety measures to young kids
Teach them who the “helpers” are.
Help your child see and identify who these people are when you’re out and about. Maybe it’s police officers, attendant behind a desk somewhere (like a librarian), or someone else. When out and about point them out, reinforce the people that are helping your kids because even if you’re not saying “if something bad happens…” the repetition of seeing those who help is who your child is sure to turn to if something does go awry.
Keep an eye out & learn to trust your gut.
Both for parents and adults, if we learn to be observant and to trust our instinct of when to leave an area or if someone feels creepy, leave the area, tell someone, make yourself known.
“All hands on deck” policy.
In busy areas, in parking lots, and in hectic situations, all hands have to be held and accounted for. If my hands are full, I use an article of clothing, a pocket, or other feature of what I am wearing to have my kids hold on.
Read more about age-appropriate ways to talk about terrorism.