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How to talk about



Whether they see it on the TV or radio, or hear about it in the playground, you can't shield your child from this subject.

In fact, emergency services and schools are encouraging us to share important information with our children so they know what to do if they ever find themselves in danger.

We would all rather explain terrorism to our children than have them hear it somewhere else and worry - so here is how to approach it. 

What are the signs my child is worried about terrorism?

  • Child becoming fearful, clingy and anxious 
  • Bedwetting 
  • Child becoming preoccupied with thoughts and memories 
  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Becoming irritable and disobedient
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach-aches
  • It’s also important to remember bullying and abuse can follow a terrorist attacks. Some children may feel targeted because of their faith or appearance - Look for signs of bullying as listed in the bullying section of this guide

(Sources: BBC Education)

How do I talk to my child about terrorism?

Nicky Cox is the editor of First News and has this advice:

  • Don't try to turn off the news when there is sad or bad news; they will hear about it at some point and it is better to ask questions when you are together than have them worry when they are alone

  • Avoid sensationalised language and terminology like that used in the news. Keep it simple. For example simply describe a terrorist as "a bad person who wants to hurt others"

  • Point out the positives. Like the number of people who rush to help those injured and the huge presence of emergency services

  • Watch the news together and make sure you finish on a happy story. Explain there is always good in the world too

  • Reassure them that they are safe and these incidents are very rare; they make the news because they are so unusual

  • Talk about what you would do in an emergency

  • Realise your child might not be ready to talk straight away but tell them you will be there should they restart the conversation in a couple of days

  • Watch this NSPCC video to see three parents answer their children's questions based on footage from Paris. 


  • If a child is at risk of being victimised following a terror attack because of their faith or appearance, address this.

    They might feel scared or embarrassed, so reassure them it's not their fault that this is happening, and that they can always talk to you or another adult they trust.

Where else can I get help?

  • Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or online

  • Parents can contact the NSPCC Helpline to talk to trained practitioners for 24/7 help, support and advice on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

  • Talk to your child's school;

    - They may put in place a special class to explain terrorism in an age-appropriate way and answer children's questions.

    - Encourage children to talk to teachers if they are not comfortable asking questions at home

    - Ensure a school knows if you have concerns your child could be victimised following an attack

  • Watch this advice from Surrey Police on what to do in a terror attack and teach it to your children in a child-friendly way:

© Produced by Adele Norris in association with Eagle Radio