Kids ask a lot of tough questions, none tougher than those about acts of violence, terrorism and war. As parents continue to grapple with their own fears, anger and sadness about the complex and ongoing world situation, they also must be conduits for information and reassurance for their kids.
Karen Friedland-Brown, parent educator from Parents Place in Palo Alto, says the questions a child asks and the explanations parents provide depend on the individual child, his or her age, temperament and level of development.
Some guidelines apply no matter the age of your child:
children that parents are in control.
or engage in a dialogue.
what the child is asking without giving too much information. Young children particularly need information in small increments.
Communicating with Preschool-age Children
Young children worry about separation from you and whether you will continue to take care of them. They also may worry about otherchildren who could be affected by war.
Preschoolers ask very basic questions that can be hard to answer. They need responses that are short, simple and factual.
countries fight against each other.
School-age Children Ask Specifics
By age 6 or 7, children may have specific questions about the facts of war:
Children may be confused about adult views on the war. If fighting is bad, why is war sometimes good or necessary?
Your responses to these questions vary depending on your views and opinions. Use this opportunity to emphasize that fighting is always bad, but that sometimes grown-ups fight and even kill people to keep the world safe. It is sad when someone dies, even if the person is an enemy.
Reassure your children by reviewing safety measures: Make sure they know
family phone numbers, let you know where they are and know numbers to call in case of emergency.
Adolescents Challenge Assumptions
Teens may question and challenge explanations and
assumptions that were offered when they were younger. Create a zone of safety within the family where ideas can be discussed without judgment. Older teens face the prospect of being directly involved in a war, even of being injured or killed.
You can help your children deal with feelings of powerlessness and isolation by encouraging them to take action. For ways to get involved, check out How Families Can Support U.S. Troops, our guide to programs which support our troops and volunteers in hotspots around the globe.