Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and many parents may be thinking about ways to explain the horrific events to their children. Although many were too young to remember or understand the circumstances of the attacks, others weren't even born when they occurred. But with exposure to the Internet, television, radio and adult conversations, children will likely need help managing anxiety associated with the terror attacks. Whether they remember, most kids are sure to have questions and concerns. As a parent, it's important to be prepared, so we went to the experts for tips to help you help your children understand 9/11.
1. Be selective of media coverage. Children should be informed in advance that they're going to be seeing and hearing a lot about the events of 9/11, on television and in newspapers and magazines. Try to limit what they watch at home and tell your child that this event will be recognized the first week of school every year.
2. Have a big discussion during the day. You want your children to have a chance to think about what they've heard so they can ask questions later, said Laurie Zelinger, a licensed psychologist in Cedarhurst. Try not to talk about these events before bedtime. "Discussions before bed can trigger anxiety and don’t allow you enough time to answer their questions and bring them back to the state of calm they'll need to go to sleep," she said.
3. Leave yourself time to answer their questions. "The door has to be open for their questions and it may take several different sessions before all of their questions come out," Zelinger said. "This type of event you need to be available to address their questions or concerns at the moment they occur and at the level they understand. Reassure them that adults in their world are doing their best to keep them safe." You can even prompt the conversation by asking, "What do you know about 9/11?"
A new book, "ABC: My Family and Me," was created by the Brooke Jackman Foundation, created to honor Brooke Jackman, a 23-year-old Oyster Bay native who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The book features short tales from children ages 3-11 with each letter highlighting a child's favorite family trait, including holiday memories, favored eating traditions and more, along with an illustration created by the kids. You can purchase the book for $25 on brookejackmanfoundation.org.
Click on the image below to find more children's books about 9/11.