Last night I wrote a rather emotional post about Osama Bin Laden’s death and then it dawned on me….. This is a historical moment and I’ll need to talk to my children about this, but what do I say?
My kids are 8, 7, and 4. They weren’t here on 9/11 and, if you remember from last night’s post, my oldest is the product of that day. He was the hope we found when we sat holding each other and fearing what would come next. He’s my 9/11 baby. So, this morning I prepared my heart and my mind to sit and talk to my children. I was limited on time, before school, but I feel confident they are prepared to listen to possible conversations from their teachers and/or friends at school with the knowledge I gave them about the events that unfolded last night and on 9/11. Are you planning on talking to your kids about Bin Laden’s death?
This morning I gathered all three of my children into the computer room and I said, “Kids, while you were sleeping last night something very important happened in the world and I want to talk to you about it before you go to school. Would that be okay?”
Seeing their blank stares I knew I needed to go back even FURTHER than I thought. So, I asked them, “Before you were born, something terrible happened to this country. Have you ever heard of 9/11?”
As our conversation continued, they had a lot of questions, in which I answered the best I can. We talked about hatred, war, death, God, and the courage of our military. My daughter asked me if I had any pictures or videos she could see. Something about showing my daughter what the Twin Towers looked like as the plane collided, hurts my heart a bit, but I, solely, believe that this is a teachable moment in history. I want her to hear MY story, her Father’s story, her Grandparent’s story. I want her to hear how her family experienced the attack that shook the world… even miles and miles away in Texas.
As parents, we should turn, event’s like Bin Laden’s death, into teachable moments. I love what my Sister-In-Law said below after I asked parents on Facebook if they were talking to their kids today about the events of last night:
Maybe you don’t want to talk to your kids. Maybe you feel they’re too young. Maybe you have full intentions, but don’t know what to say. It’s normal. I cried a little bit talking to my children and they were understanding and it made them realize how important 9/11 was to this country. Today, I found some really great information to help kick start your conversation with your kids, from PBS Parents:
- Start by finding out what your child knows. When a news topic comes up, ask an open-ended question to find out what she knows like “What have you heard about it?” This encourages your child to let you know what she is thinking.
- Ask a follow up question. Depending on your child’s comments, ask another question to get him thinking, such as “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you think people should do to help?”
- Explain simply. Give children the information they need to know in a way that makes sense to them. At times, a few sentences are enough. “A good analogy is how you might talk about sex,” adds Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed. D. “You obviously wouldn’t explain everything to a 5-year-old. Talking about violence and safety is similar.”
- Listen and acknowledge. If a child talks about a news event (like a local robbery or kidnapping) and is worried,recognize her feeling and comfort her. You might say “I can see you’re worried, but you are safe here. Remember how we always lock our doors.” This acknowledges your child’s feelings, helps her feel secure, and encourages her to tell you more.
- Offer reassurance. When a child is exposed to disturbing news, she may worry about her safety. To help her calm down, offer specific examples that relate to her environment like, “That hurricane happened far away but we’ve never had a hurricane where we live.” Actions speak louder than words — so show your child how you lock the door if she gets scared by a news report about robbers, point out the gutters and storm drains if a hurricane story causes fear, and explain what the security guards do at the airport after a story about terrorists.
- Tailor your answer to your child’s age. The amount of information children need changes age by age. “A kindergartner may feel reassured simply knowing a hurricane is thousands of miles away. An older child may want to know how hurricanes could affect the place where he lives and may want to know what is being done to help those in need. Both ages will be reassured by doing something to help,” notes Jane Katch, M.S.T., author of Under Deadman’s Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play.
For more on talking to your kids visit www.pbs.org/parents or view the complete aricle Talking With Kids About News.
Parents, will you be talking to your kids about Bin Laden’s death? Have you already done it? If so, how did they take it? More importantly, how did YOU take it?
Latest posts by Sara Patterson (see all)
- Music Monday: Just Breathe - June 20, 2016
- There is a wolf prowling our schools - May 25, 2016
- Music Monday: I completely adore the song “Priceless” - May 23, 2016