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Tuesday, September 11, 2001 8:07 PM

For our parents with small children.

Back to 911
2006 Update: National Association of School Psychologists: Helping children cope with violence and terror: Tips for Teachers and Parents.


As we sift through the news of the airplane crashes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, adults are in shock and, to some degree, fear. Children are also having these feelings.

Some tips follow for dealing with children and youth who are witnessing these traumatic events on television:

With older students, watching live coverage on CNN is appropriate and helps prepare them for discussions and other reactions as they deal with this tragedy.

Younger children generally should be spared such live coverage, but we should be aware of the range of emotions and questions that will arise.
Act as caring adults, listening and reassuring.
Experts tell us that even very young children know about what's happening from what they pick up on television.
They want to talk about it with adults they trust.
Not every child will react in the same way.
Some children will be sad, anxious or fearful.

Some may be confused, some excited and fascinated.
Some may not want to talk at all.
No matter how frightened some children may be, it is even more frightening for them to think that nobody cares enough to listen and share the experience with them.

Listen to the children, explore their feelings and help them feel secure and good about themselves in these difficult times.
Seven Tips to Help Cope with Today's Events

- Maintain daily routines, which can be reassuring for young children.

- Maintain a calm atmosphere at home.
Children sense and adopt the tension and anxieties of their parents.

- Monitor television viewing, including the amount and intensity of the coverage of the tragedy.
Don't shield them from watching the coverage altogether; that might only intensify their anxiety and curiosity.
When possible, watch television with your children so you can ask them questions and be available to answer them.

- Allow your children to talk freely and express their reactions to things heard in school and viewed on television.

- Do not force your own views on your children, especially adolescents.
Listen, don't lecture.
Encourage your older children to work out their own "positions"; about the tragedy, even if they differ from yours.

- Be honest about what has happened.
People are hurt.
Assure them that they are far away from the disaster and not likely to be in danger.

- Give children honest, realistic answers to their questions, making sure that the explanations are appropriate for the child's age and cognitive ability.
For example, concrete answers are okay for younger children, while more philosophical discussions will work for adolescents.



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