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Talking to children about terrorist attacks is unavoidable, so learn how to do it properly

People hold candles during a vigil on Emory University's campus Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Atlanta, to honor the victims of Friday's attacks in Paris. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

LISTEN: Talking to children about terrorist attacks

After a string of attacks across Paris last week left at least 129 dead and an additional 352 injured, all eyes turned to the city of love as it began to heal from the rampage that tried to tear it apart.

Immediately after they were first reported, news outlets worldwide began publishing photos, videos and other types of information pertaining to the attacks. The images and details were unavoidable, even to shielded eyes.

For parents, explaining the details behind the Paris attacks to their children can seem intimidating but is necessary in today’s overly open media age.

DeAnn Davies, director of early childhood outreach and child psychology for Summit Healthcare, said it is important that parents explain limited details of terrorist attacks and similar events that have a worldwide impact to their children in order to curb any negative feelings they may have.

Davies said parents should process their feelings in relation to terrorist attacks before addressing them with their children and then figure out an appropriate way to address the events with them.

Parents should figure out what details their children already know in relation to the events and should avoid unnecessary details, Davies said, such as how many are injured or killed.

“They don’t need to know that.” She said. “But what they do need to know is that bad things do happen.”

Davies said parents should not sugar-coat details but should also remind their children that there are people working hard in the country to protect U.S. residents and avoid terrorist attacks.

“Be sensitive to the needs of your children individually,” she said. “Shift the conversation to, ‘You know, it feels really sad that that happened, and that’s how I feel. How are you feeling about this?'”

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