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How to talk to your kids about terrorism

Unfortunately, it's likely to come up time and time again.

It seems we can’t turn on the TV or jump online without being inundated with fresh news of the horrors inflicted by ISIS, or similar terrorism groups or individuals.
And as much as we would like to shelter them from the seemingly unceasing plight to incite fear in the community, our kids are going to be exposed to news of terrorism whether we like it or not.
So how do we explain what’s happening to curious but innocent minds?
Director of the Australian Child & Adolescent, Loss & Grief Network Amanda Harris says it’s important to be honest with children when discussing distressing news events, but to not unnecessarily go into too many specific details or let them become overexposed to ongoing news coverage.
“Often children overestimate threat,” Harris explains. “So seeing something repeatedly on the news may make it seem like it’s happening more frequently, or is more prominent that it actually may be.
“Kids often feel anxious or sad when they hear about terror events, and they don’t always have a good perception that these things are happening in another state or country, and will think that the threat is closer to them.
“Reassure them that it’s okay to feel worried or scared, while also reminding them that they’re very safe. You can also focus on some of the positive stories of courage and hope that can come from these events, too.”
When discussing terror events with older children or teenagers who most likely gather their information from social media and friendship groups, Harris says you should ask them what they’ve already heard or know.
“Afterwards it might be a good idea to sit down with them and watch a news clip together so that you can clear up any misconceptions they may have, and talk about fact rather than fiction or rumour.
“What we’ve seen happen recently may be connected to a particular group, but it’s important to point out that to them that extremism isn’t limited to a particular race or religion; there are individuals all across society who do dangerous and extreme things, so it’s certainly not helpful to make sweeping generalisations.”
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
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