How to talk with your child about the recent terror attacks

Posted at 3:25 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 15:40:05-04

Two terrorist attacks in one month overseas is a lot for anyone to take in, let alone a child.

With extensive media coverage of these attacks, parents may find discussing these types of trauma with their children is unavoidable.

So how can you help your child address, heal and cope with tough emotions around these types of events?

It's not an easy conversation, but Dean Nancy Smyth from the University at Buffalo's School of Social Work says it's a good idea to check in. Even teens and those in their twenties can use a check-in, even if it's just to ask about their day. Smyth says knowing their highs and lows is a good starting point.

Smyth also advises keeping tabs on your littler ones. Just because they're younger doesn't mean they can't pick up on what is happening. Be honest with them, but limit the graphic details. Smyth recommends using simpler words and phrases, or even using other techniques like drawing or painting to help them express their emotions.

With the prevalence of social media and the likelihood that your child may be seeing these traumatic images or reading about the events, Smyth recommends setting guidelines and having "technology down time" to balance your child's exposure to jarring images and video.

"Everytime a TV report comes on and images are shown, your brain sees that and our brains actually don't know that that's not happening again, so the pictures are very powerful," Smyth said. "So one of the things I told people after 9/11 was watch a little bit of media coverage, but don't watch the things that repeat it over and over again."