Counselor's advice for parents talking to kids about terrorism

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Following a suicide bomber attacking fans at a concert in Manchester that many feel targeted children, some parents are now wondering how they should talk to kids about situations like this.

With videos of the incident flooding the internet, children are often exposed to these types of situations.

"We have our cell phones and tv that are just right there in our home or wherever we are, and that brings it into our world," said Michelle Hall, a professional counselor at Positive Frame of Mind Counseling in Wichita Falls.

Hall works with kids and said a child's maturity is going to make a difference on how much they understand and how detailed parents should be.

Hall said parents should use words and concepts that are developmentally appropriate.

That is something one Wichita Falls Father said he is sure to do. He said when it comes to his kids that are in college he reminds them that they need to be aware of their surroundings because attacks like the one in Manchester can happen anywhere.

"I do bring it to their attention, remind them to look what happened, this happened a week ago, this happened a month ago," said Robert Orue, father of five.

However addressing this topic with his younger kids is different.

"I don't want them to be scared," said Orue. "I make sure they still know what's going on, but I don't quite talk in detail with them."

Mayra Mendoza has a 9-year-old and said she does not bring this issue up with her daughter all the time but does not shield her from real world situations either.

"I think it is important to let them know about the risks that are out there just because they need to be aware," said Mendoza. "They are children, and they are normally the most vulnerable."

With children being vulnerable physically and emotionally Hall said it is important to find out what they know before diving into this topic.

"Just kind of explore it together, and that way they can bring out their thoughts and reactions to feelings and fears," said Hall. "Just have that one on one connection and conversation about it."

She said if they are upset to reassure them they are safe and let them know there are people with jobs that are here to protect and look out for them. Like firemen and police officers.

She said there is one thing parents should stay away from.

"Avoid the whole political and religious component," said Hall. "It can promote more anxiety and fear, and so just to leave that out I think will be helpful."

Also, remember to remain positive.

"Most people are good in this world, most people are kind and just to kind of keep that in our hearts," said Hall.

If a child does not know anything about what is going on Hall said it is better for them to hear it from the parent and not a friend or someone who might not be well informed on the situation. She said the latter can often lead to misconceptions or false information.

If a child is really afraid and it is keeping them from functioning, she recommends calling a professional counselor so they can discuss coping strategies. She also encourages parents to create some distance from the issue.

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