The recent terrorist event in London and Manchester has been utterly shocking.

With the deepest respect for the grief of those who’ve lost, even those of us who haven’t feel the sense of collected shock and empathy for those who have.

We are all affected in different ways. And so are our children.

They will have heard people talking about it, seen it on television and online, it is inevitably going to have an impact upon them and they’ll feel disturbed by it. Youngsters may become anxious and afraid.

It’s often said that we fear most those things which we don’t understand. But we don’t want youngsters to live in fear. So, although it is extremely difficult for us to fully understand events like these, we shouldn’t shy away from talking about it with them, openly and practically, managing our own fears and anxieties so we don’t pass them onto the children. Scaremongering or emotional outbursts will not help them. How we talk about it will affect their reactions and understanding of it.

To help us do this there is some useful information here on the website of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years where they offer advice on helping children through upsetting events.

They suggest that it helps to: –

  • Answer their questions with short explanations and facts about the event without dwelling on the emotion of it or elaborating too much
  • At the same time acknowledge that what’s happened is upsetting and bound to make us feel uneasy. This is natural and will pass with time
  • Offer extra hugs and reassurance through touch and talk
  • Keep matter-of-fact, as this is reassuring, and when talking to others try and keep emotive or sensationalist conversations to a minimum if children are present
  • Make sure we engage in discussions on other subjects and do other activities to demonstrate that life goes on despite catastrophic events like these and that dwelling on them serves no useful purpose.

For the youngsters to read themselves; the BBC Newsround website has some excellent advice on what to do if you hear disturbing news and feel upset. (Useful for parents too).

Meanwhile the best we can do as parents is to manage our own emotional responses to such distressing events, which will through our example teach the children how to manage theirs.


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