It seems fitting to write about this topic on the anniversary of 9/11.  I
grew up in New York City and vividly remember the Twin Towers being
built.  On the fateful day of the crashes in 2001, I wrestled with how to
discuss the events of the day with my children.  I felt the need for
some guidelines.

Luckily, many useful resources quickly cropped up on the web, and our
children’s teachers handled questions and discussions in the

These guidelines are not focused on a single event.  They can also be
extended to discussions about natural disasters or other tragic events.

I searched the internet yesterday and once again discovered several
amazing, helpful sites.  Here are a few of the ones I found interesting
and easy to understand.

Discussing war and peace
This is the home page.  The “Parents” and “FAQ” links are great places
to get started.  Under the Parents link, the following link takes you to a
wonderful list of activities and fact sheets:

Helping children cope with a disaster

Talking with kids about news

Here is a brief summary of the top tips:

  • Make time to comfort and reassure your children.
  • Vary your approach to the discussions according to the child’s age. 
    For example, younger children don’t need as much detail, and should
    not be exposed to a lot of the visual news coverage.  Older children
    may want to find ways to take action.
  • Have a “Plan B” when conversation alone doesn’t hit the mark to help a child
    make sense of a disaster.  Try creative ways to get out feelings and
    fears, such as drawing or acting.  Observe how younger kids are
    playing. Use those opportunities to then comment further about the
  • Realize that the older a child is, the more they will consult and
    believe the buzz from their peers, so ask, “What are your friends
    saying about this event?” and listen in. You can always offer to show
    them (and their friends) some facts about what happened. 

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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