The Times and the NSPCC joined forces to release a video to help parents talk to their children about terrorism. This was prompted by over 370 young people contacting Childline to discuss their concerns following the Paris attacks in November 2015.
You can see the video at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/nspcc/
This video has however stirred up some discussion regarding how much or how little current affairs information we should discuss with our children. As an NLP4Kids therapist I’m often talking to parents about the benefits of discussing “real life” activities and topical information with their children. These discussions teach our children different ways to think about complex issues, help them process their thoughts and feelings and provide them with a basis on which to build their own views and beliefs.
As adults our view of the world can be challenged at times like this. It can be extremely difficult to know what to say and how to explain such attacks.
I was invited to speak on BBC Radio Berkshire to discuss this topic and to give my opinion on the video.
The video highlights the kind of questions children of different ages may have. It is by no means a definite Q&A on terrorism, nor does it go into great detail on how to broach the topic. What it does do is to highlight the following ways in which to help your children…
Listen – Listen to their concerns when they come home from school if when they’ve been watching the television and talk to them about their specific concerns.
Ask questions – Find out what their view is, what they have learned from school or friends and what they think about the situation at the moment.
Be honest – Answer their questions and concerns as honestly as possible
Reassure – Provide them with as much reassurance as possible that they are safe and there are many people working together to stop these kinds of incidents from happening.
In addition to this advice I am offering the following 3 tips.
Emotions – Question how they feel. Does it make them feel sad, confused, scared or angry? Are their feelings the same or different to yours? Talk to them about how you feel and why. This will help them appreciate whatever they feel is okay and perfectly natural.
Compare – Talk about the events in terms of concepts they will understand. E.g. all schools have procedures in place for anti-bullying, use this as a basis for your discussion.
Perspective – remind them that their day to day life is not in danger. Even though these events are upsetting, there are many more days when good things happen in the world and people take care of and respect each other.
The primary thing to remember is to acknowledge it. If you’re not talking to your child about these issues, someone else will be. They may hear information from others who don’t hold the same values or beliefs as those you want to teach your children. Use this opportunity to think ahead and answer any questions your child may raise with you about terrorist activity.