Manchester bombing raises anxiety about terrorism, how to explain it to children

CHARLESTON (WCBD) – In the wake of the terrorism attack in Britain, there is heightened anxiety as the United States and people around the world mourn the victims of the Manchester bombing.

The blast occurred following a concert by the American pop star Ariana Grande and as crowds of young adults and teenagers departed for a nearby train station.

As the attacks receive wall to wall media coverage, you may find yourself answering questions from children about what happened.

Experts say it’s difficult for families to completely tune out current events and sensitive subjects in the news, but it’s important to ensure your children feel safe.

“You should try to stay calm because kids can feed off your own anxiety and panic,” said Dr. Yevgeniy Gelfand, MD, a psychiatrist for Trident Medical Center in Charleston. “It’s really how you respond to what’s happening and deal with it that matters most.”

Above all else, experts recommend adults talk openly to kids and allow them to express their fears.

“As much as we should be concerned, we shouldn’t let terrorists win. And we should continue to live our lives,” said Dr. Gelfand.

Experts also advise that you give kids opportunities to talk about their feelings and fears, validate what they say as real, try to provide a sense of safety and keep to a routine.

“We know about these things that are happening. It’s really about what we do and how we deal with this information,” said Dr. Gelfand.

If your child asks questions about the attack, try and and provide as much information as possible but avoid unnecessary and frightening details. Visual images are powerful and can leave a lasting impact, leaving many physicians to recommend restricting preschool-age children and younger from television, social media and what’s reported in the media.

“Of course if kids do have questions it’s important to answer them as truthfully as possible and keep it to their level of understanding,” said Dr. Gelfand.

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