How To Talk To Your Child About Terrorism

News of recent terrorist attacks will have frightened many children and young people, but parents have the added dilemma of how to explain such things to their children.

The NSPCC’s advice for any child or young person upset and anxious in light of this news is for them to talk to a trusted adult, be it a parent, teacher or Childline.

To help parents talk to their children about terrorism the NSPCC has published the following advice:

  • Listen carefully to a child’s fears and worries
  • Offer reassurance and comfort and avoid complicated and worrying explanations that could leave them more frightened and confused.
  • Help them find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings.
  • Children can always contact Childline free and confidentially 24/7 on 0800 1111.

It’s also important to address bullying and abuse following the terrorist attacks. 

Some children may feel targeted because of their faith or appearance
Look for signs of bullying, and make sure that they know they can talk with you about it. Often children might feel scared or embarrassed, so reassure them it's not their fault that this is happening, and that they can always talk to you or another adult they trust. Alert your child’s school so that they can be aware of the issue. 

Dealing with offensive or unkind comments about a child’s faith or background
If you think this is happening, it’s important to intervene. Calmly explain that comments like this are not acceptable. Your child should also understand that someone’s beliefs do not make them a terrorist. Explain that most people are as scared and hurt by the attacks as your child is. You could ask them how they think the other child felt, or ask them how they felt when someone said something unkind to them. Explain what you will do next, such as telling your child's school, and what you expect them to do.

If you're concerned about how a child is feeling following the tragic events in Manchester on Monday 22nd May and in London on Saturday 3rd June, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The video below shows how three parents answer their children's questions based on footage from Paris but the info applies to attacks in any locations.

Further advice on how to support children who are worried about terrorism is available via the NSPCC’s website.