How to talk with kids about terror attacks and tragedy

Explaining terror attacks to kids
Explaining terror attacks to kids
Posted at 4:45 AM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 07:00:49-04

After the attack in Manchester at Ariana Grande's concert, your kids may be asking questions - talking to them about the tragedy, and why it happened, can be difficult.

"Be aware but don't be afraid," that's the advice Dawn Sims shares with her two boys who frequently ask questions, "They do, especially my older one he is very curious. He definitely googles YouTube videos all the time and certainly looks over my shoulder when I'm on social media."

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As a parent - how do you start the conversation? Dr. Mark Cavitt, a Psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins All Children's says open with questions like, "What have you seen, what have you heard, what images are you looking at, and what video clips are you seeing?"

Dr. Cavitt says in the age of social media - kids are getting information in real time - and because Ariana Grande has a massive social media following - kids in the US may be curious and scared. He says it's important to recognize those fears, but also remind them these are isolated incidents.

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"The parents may have a different conversation with their teenager then they are going to have with their five-year-old, or six-year-old," he said. "If they haven't seen or heard anything and it's not particularly registering with them, it doesn't make much sense to pursue the topic either."

He says you can also express how you cope with fear.

Sims says in public places she makes sure her kids pay attention to their surroundings always.

"You have to be able to make them understand that you still have to live in this world, we still have to function in this world and majority of the time this world functions wonderfully," she said.

Dr. Cavitt says if your child is showing signs of depression - a lack of eating, or sleeping, or they are anxious, worried or stressed, he says it may be time to see a doctor for help.