How To Talk to Your Children About 9/11

With the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th tragedy just around the corner, many are struggling.  Those who were very close to the event continue to deal with feelings of trauma, anger, depression, and loss.  Many have even been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relation to 9/11 and its after effects.

We have previously discussed the best ways to handle these issues, so this article will focus on children and how to talk to them about this devastating day.  Many of today’s children were not alive to experience the event, while others were likely too young to comprehend it.

This doesn’t mean they can simply ignore it, however, and they are likely to have a lot of questions about what happened.  Children view our reactions and responses and it makes them curious, which is likely to happen on the upcoming anniversary.

Talking to children about such a touchy subject can be difficult, so we have provided some helpful things to remember to make the process as smooth and productive as possible:

1)      Speak to them on their level.  Don’t go into the detailed politics of U.S./Middle Eastern relationships, and don’t be overly emotional.  Young children can only absorb the bare minimum before they are overwhelmed into boredom or discomfort, so keep it simple.  Give only the facts of what happened, and it is okay to clarify that many innocent people died, and many of them as heroes.

2)      Keep them away from popular news stations on the day of the anniversary.  There is guaranteed to be a number of emotional and dramatized reenactments, as well as actual footage from the day of the attack.  Your children don’t need to see this, as it will only scare them rather than give them a better understanding of the facts.

3)      Make sure that they understand that this is an anniversary designed in remembrance and respect, not a celebration or a holiday.  You should also clarify that this is something that happened ten years ago, not something that is happening now.

4)      Take great effort not to speak to them in a way that will scare them.  Make sure they know that numerous safety measures have been taken to prevent future attacks, and that the person responsible for 9/11 is no longer alive.  Teach them some basic survival techniques to get them prepared, as this will also build their confidence.

This is not an easy subject to talk about, and it is especially difficult when kids are involved.  Be grateful that they are too young to have experienced the actual event, and make sure they have adequate respect for all those who risked their lives to help the victims.

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