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Parenting through Terrorism: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Talking with your child about bombings and shootings can be scary. Use these tips to educate your child while preserving their peace of mind.
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
September 23, 2016
Minute Read

Turning on the evening news is dicey business if you have children at home. Another set of bombs in a mall, on a sidewalk or in a café. What do you say to your children or should you simply ignore the reality of evil around them? These are serious questions that every parent must reconcile. But helping children live unafraid in a dangerous world has been the job of parents throughout the generations. And there are ways to do this successfully. Let’s look at some of them.

Provide security at home. Children need to feel safe at home, if nowhere else. So make sure that your children feel physically secure at home. And let them know that home is the best place to find answers for dealing with frightening issues like terrorism.

Talk about evil in the world. When I was in first grade living outside of Washington, D.C., we had school drills teaching us how to reach a bomb shelter quickly. President Kennedy was confronting the Cuban Missile crisis and our neighborhood was within striking distance. But I didn’t live with fear because my parents and teachers told us that life was dangerous and they had a plan to deal with danger.

One of the worst things we can do with children is telling them that evil doesn’t exist.

They know it does, so never be afraid to talk with your children about evil and bad people, but make sure that you tell them your plan to help keep them safe.

Teach them to live wisely but unafraid. Even children know that knowledge is power. Teach your children that, yes, there are people in the world who want to hurt them, but that bad people have always tried to harm people, even when you were young. Teach them that they can learn how to avoid dangerous situations and be safe and that you are there right beside them to show them how.

Encourage them to ask questions. One of the surest ways to keep children afraid is to teach them that there are some questions about people or situations that should never be asked.

Older children are especially bullied into silence when it comes to terrorism. They fear asking teachers and parents questions because they don’t want to appear phobic, racist or unintelligent. Make sure that you tell your children (especially teens) that you invite their questions about another person’s motives, beliefs or understanding of the world.

The biggest mistake a parent can make with a child is to shut down their questions because then they truly become at risk of being afraid.

This article originally appeared on

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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