Paris Terror Attacks: Talking to children about terrorism

- It's hard to escape the images of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the videos from ISIS that promise similar attacks on American soil.

Many parents are left wondering how to explain these situations to their children.

Doctor Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist with personal ties to Paris, joined us with coping strategies for both children and adults.

"The first thing that I recommend people do is ask your kids what they know, because they will have heard things, and you need to know and find out what it is that's going on in their mind," Van Susteren said. "Once you know, and listen very carefully, then talk to them about these feelings that they have." She says it’s important to underscore the idea that there are more 'good guys' than 'bad guys' - a concept many young people will understand.

Another point Van Susteren makes is not to awaken fears that they don’t have, which is why it is important to assess first to see if they have any concerns.

Finding out how people feel – rather than telling them how they are supposed to feel – is essential in times like these when security is heightened and safety is a concern. "What's really important for us, I think, and what helps me the most frankly is to try to limit my exposure to watching what's happening," she said.

Van Susteren says to allow yourself to be afraid. But don't stay in that state. She says by thinking about the acts of courage and kindness squelching a fear supplants it with something much more valid. "Work at what's in your heart, and what could be in the heart of good people, rather than focusing on fear."

 

How to talk with your kids about fear and terror

Posted by Allison Seymour FOX 5 DC on Tuesday, November 17, 2015

 

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