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How to Talk to Children about War and Other Crises

By Steve Wennblom

Fargo, ND – Rebecca Coffey ? author of Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings: Human Cruelty and the New Trauma Therapy ? says in times like these ? everyone needs to take care of the people they love. She makes several suggestions to parents on how to talk to children about trauma and difficult events.

1. Talk to your children using language that is easy to understand.

2. Assure your children that they are safe.

a. Be honest with your feelings.

b. Don't rush children through their feelings.

c. If younger children have trouble expressing their feelings, let them paint or draw to help them express their concerns.

3. Don't assume that a child who is calm one day will be without fear the next day.

4. Don't dwell on details. [Ex: if a child asked a question like, "How many people died?" give a simple answer without speculation.]

5. Bedtime can be difficult.

a. Budget extra time for comforting.

b. Be flexible about where your children sleep.

6. Make a contribution during this time of need.

a. Parents can make plans to donate blood.

b. Older children can create memorial sculptures, prayers or poems.

7. Whatever you do, don't let your children feel helpless.

a. When talking to children about terrorism and war is to limit their exposure to the feeling of threat and to boost their self-confidence about ho they can help themselves and the people they love.

8. Turn off the television and put down the newspaper when you have had enough.

To learn more about how to deal with stress and crisis, pick up these books at your local library or bookstore.

Title: "About Disasters" by J. BerrySummary: This book uses humorous illustrations and text to discuss 12 different disasters and how to prepare for and survive them.

Title: "Disaster" by D. SobolSummary: This is a fictional story about disasters.