How to Talk to Your Children About 9/11

If we can only get rid of memories of traumatic events maybe it can diminish distress especially among our children and young adults. Such is not the case because we are not programmed to do so. Remembering what transpired on 9/11 can be a lot more difficult and painful especially among those who lost a loved one or for those who were directly impacted by that tragic day when terrorists struck fear and anxiety into the hearts of people from all corners of the globe. Moreover, media coverage commemorating the events in a detailed manner may heighten distress or indifference among our children.

So the question is, how can parents explain something so gruesome and traumatic to their children?  Parents can’t shield their children from acquiring information about what is so significant about 9/11. It is a thing of the past but it definitely left an indelible mark in history and on the eight anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, as publication of news and photos of that tragic day find their way to our newspapers, television screens and the Internet, parents are dumbfounded about the manner on how they can explain to their children this hard and complex subject.

There are certain tips which may help all concerned parents on this particular issue. The first thing to do is to try to relax while discussing the topic. You have to consider the fact that talking about violent acts won’t increase your children’s fear any more than harbor anxiety about the unknown. Try to determine and feel what your child already knows about the event so you can somehow gauge the impact of the information you want to discuss thereby establishing the parameters of the subsequent conversation.

Try to be as transparent and honest as possible although you can opt to refrain from providing detailed information.  Children are generally smart, they can sense when they are being lied to or when you’re withdrawing something from them. It’s not appropriate to eliminate your children’s fear but a thorough explanation should be given to assure them somehow that there is nothing to be afraid of as government authorities are trying to find ways to protect the nation’s citizenry against another horrible event. Just make sure that your children are interested about the flow of the conversation, otherwise it’s better to drop the topic. Your children may not yet want or need to discuss the event at this particular period but they will certainly bring it out sooner or later.

Parents ought to be very careful when discussing traumatic events to their children and young adults especially those with acts of terrorism such as 9/11 because you are not certain how they will interpret and react on such sensitive subject matters.

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