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Navigating Discussions About Terrorism and Violence with Young, Primary-Aged Children in Times of Gl

When discussing terrorism and violence with young, primary-aged children during times of global uncertainty, striking the right balance is crucial

Global events marked by acts of terrorism and violence can be distressing for us all even for young, primary-aged children. Discussing these complex topics with them is a sensitive and challenging task. There's a fine balance to strike between providing age-appropriate information and protecting their emotional well-being. Here, we explore when it might be too much and offer guidance on how to navigate these discussions with care.

Understanding Developmental Readiness

Children's ability to process and understand difficult topics like terrorism and violence is strongly linked to their developmental stage. Young, primary-aged children, typically between the ages of 6 to 10, are in the early stages of cognitive and emotional development. They might have limited capacity to grasp the complexities of global violence and terrorism…

  • Age-Appropriate Information: Tailor your discussions to their age and maturity level. For younger children, stick to simple, concrete explanations, while older primary-aged kids can handle slightly more nuanced discussions.

  • Gauge Their Interest: Children's interest and curiosity vary. Some may ask questions or show interest in current events, while others may not be as engaged. Follow their lead and answer their questions honestly but with consideration for their age.

Balancing Openness and Protection

While it's important to maintain open lines of communication with children, it's equally crucial to protect their emotional well-being…

  • Monitor Their Emotional State: Pay attention to their emotional reactions. If discussions about violence and terrorism cause excessive anxiety, nightmares, or other signs of distress, it may be time to limit the exposure.

  • Limit Exposure to Graphic Content: Shield young children from graphic and disturbing images or news stories. These can be deeply unsettling and frightening for them. Be aware of how you do this, do not create a drama around not seeing as this can enforce the terror of the images.

Promoting a Sense of Safety

In times of global uncertainty, it's essential to emphasize safety and security…

  • Reassure Them: Repeatedly reassure children that they are safe and cared for. Emphasize the protective role of parents and caregivers.

  • Focus on the Positive: Balance discussions about violence with positive and hopeful stories. Make it a time to also highlight the efforts of people, organizations, and communities working toward peace and unity.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Discussing difficult topics with children requires a supportive environment that fosters their emotional well-being…

  • Encourage Questions: Let children know that they can ask questions, express their feelings, and share their concerns with you. Create a safe space for dialogue.

  • Maintain Routine: Stability and routine can provide a sense of security during times of global uncertainty. Be strong to stick to daily schedules and rituals, this will remind your child that they are in a safe space.

Selecting Age-Appropriate Resources

When discussing terrorism and violence, choose age-appropriate books, movies, or educational resources that can help children understand complex topics gently…

  • Books: Look for children's books that address challenging topics with sensitivity and provide age-appropriate explanations. Include books that have stories of hope after experiences of terror.

  • Educational Websites: Some websites offer resources specifically designed for explaining global issues to children. Check their content for suitability.

Knowing When to Seek Professional Help

Some children may struggle more than others with discussions about terrorism and violence. In some cases, professional support may be necessary…

  • Watch for Behavioural Changes: If your child's behaviour changes significantly, such as withdrawal, aggression, or intense fears, it might be a sign that they are struggling to cope.

  • Consult with a Child Therapist: If needed, consider consulting a child therapist so they can help you and your child process their emotions and fears in a safe and supportive environment.


When discussing terrorism and violence with young, primary-aged children during times of global uncertainty, striking the right balance is crucial. Provide age-appropriate information, protect their emotional well-being, and maintain open lines of communication. Always gauge their readiness and reactions and be prepared to limit exposure or seek professional help if necessary. The primary goal is to ensure their emotional security and offer support in a world that can sometimes be distressing and complex.


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