Talking To Your Kids About 9/11

After Sept. 11, we attempted to explain to our children the unexplainable. On the one-year anniversary of the devastating attacks on America, the challenge remains.

Especially if your child was too young to ask the tough questions last year, you may need Dr. Phil's advice on explaining terrorism to a child and attending to his/her needs.

  • Initiate discussion with your child. Silence may not be an indication of comfort, especially if they don't have the words to express their feelings.

  • Speak to children truthfully and on their level. For example, they may not understand what "terrorism" means. You can't expect them to deal with adult issues, so demystify things in an elementary way.

  • Explain that it was an event that had a beginning and an end. They may see it on TV again, but it is not happening over and over.

  • Point them to all the people they can take comfort in. Talk about how brave the firefighters were.

  • Assure them that their family and the buildings they are familiar with — school, church, etc. — are not in danger.

  • Pay attention to how they are responding. Aggressive behavior, nightmares and clinginess can be signs of disturbance.

  • Just as they may have done last year, it may empower children to make flags or write letters to firemen or victims' families. Find ways for them to feel productive and to channel their energy.