Today marks the anniversary of September 11th. The media will be saturated with stories, images and news as we remember this tragic day.
I still remember my then 2-year-old daughter playing with toys in the next room while I watched the towers collapse on the news. I was frightened for New York, the United States and of course, my child.
As parents, we need to ready ourselves in order to best prepare our children for the influx of information surrounding 9/11.
Dr. Annie Thiel, a PhD psychologist specializing in families and children strongly advises that young children be protected from graphic images of 9/11. Scenes of people jumping from the buildings should not be shown to them, because the shock of these images will be too complex for them to absorb.
In fact, Dr. Thiel advises that children under the age of 14 be shielded from all gruesome details and images, because their brains are too underdeveloped for them to think abstractly. Showing young children such images could cause them to have nightmares and anxiety.
A child’s age and individual maturity level should be kept in mind by all parents. “It’s a fine line to walk between telling them the facts and scaring them,” Thiel said.
When discussing the events of 9/11 with children, she also strongly suggests focusing on the heroic efforts of the firemen, police and other rescuers. It’s important to point out the remarkable human effort of people coming together to help support one another. It will give children hope to learn about the way the people of a big city like, New York came together to help one another. Focusing the discussion on the community spirit will be reassuring to children of all ages.
How did you explain the events of September 11th to your children?