7 Tips to Explain the Sensitive Topic of Terrorism to Kids


It happened in New York, it happened in Mumbai, it happened in Paris, it is happening every day in one or other part of the world. It can happen at your place too. The ‘it’ is nothing but a terrorist attack.

explaining terrorism to kids

Humanity is losing its place and unexpected things are happening around the world. Terrorist attacks around the world, massacres, murders, bomb blasts, hijacks all these insanely negative words are making to the NEWS headlines everyday. And for the lucky many like us these NEWS headlines remain just as another incident in some part of the world until it happens to us.

How will you as a parent assure your kids that humanity is still alive?

How will you make sure that your kid is not going after terrorism in future?

How will you as a parent wipe the fear of terrorism from your kid’s mind?

Do you discuss these things with your kids?

We often think that these are not the topics to be discussed with kids. It is also a difficult and sensitive topic to talk about. But remember kids are watching everything. They can get frightened after seeing these or lose hope in the world.

So I think it is time we start talking to kids about terrorism and make them understand what is right and what is wrong because kids get all sorts of wrong information and this can mislead them.

How to explain terrorism to kids? 

If you have an older kid he will definitely ask you why all these things are happening around the world and what is terrorism. Chances are most of the times they will be frightened by seeing all the brutality on screen.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when you talk about terrorism to kids.

#1. You understand first

Before you discuss with your kids, read/watch and understand what the actual scenario is. First you should have a correct knowledge of what is happening around you before you explain it to your kids.

#2. Ask your kid how he/she feels

If you have an older kid who watches TV along with you or hears you talk, she will definitely ask you what terrorism is.

Start the discussion by asking your kids how much they know. Ask them if they are aware of various terrorist incidents happening in the world and what they feel.  Let them explain first. Kids normally get misinformed in such cases. So understanding what they have understood is a must before you start explaining.

Try to find out what they feel- do they bother, are they afraid, are they clueless, or are they concerned.

#3. Don’t instill fear

I still remember myself as a child crying loudly after I saw the news of the murder of a teacher in front of his own class of primary students. The news channels were showing the crime scene so clear with small kids crying and explaining what happened. As that incident took place in a classroom I as a tween easily got upset and cried like anything. I still do remember how difficult it was for my parents to console and convince me that it will not happen in my classroom.

So remember such crime scenes can upset kids and make them frightened.  In such situations it is normal that we will be scared and our kids will be too. But don’t try to increase the fear by explaining all the unnecessary details.

Avoid totally brutal scenes when you watch your NEWS or TV. Remote is in your hands and you can always change the channel.

You don’t have to explain the various cruel things like blood-sheds, gang rapes, assassinations, barbaric activities etc that the terrorist do. Just give your kids minimal information like people lose their homes, they get hurt and cry and many die.

#4. Don’t blame any religion/country/community

Have you ever thought why these things are happening around the world? World is going mad just because some people are ready to kill and be killed as they believe that only they are right and those who oppose them have no right to be alive.

It is not a religion/country that is doing all these terrorist activities. It is just the views of certain strong influential people who are ready to even hurt others to make them follow their path. It is the way certain people misinterpret religion to make benefits for their own good. So I would strongly recommend that when you explain terrorism to your kids never blame any particular religion/country.

Instead tell them that the main causes of terrorism is that some people are trying to impose their ideologies forcefully on others and believe that they will get benefited by being superior to others and hurting others.

#5. Explain what is age appropriate

Limit the details of the happening according to age. A primary schooler will not understand all the political points. So keep it simple for them. If you have a tween explain him in a little more detailed way.

And for an older teenager let him watch NEWS or read out newspaper along with you and discuss with you what is happening. For a child above 16 years of age you can even discuss effects of terrorism on society and effects of terrorism on people. But always keep the discussions healthy and conclude your discussions with a positive note.

#6. Highlight the good things

When you see good news like people helping the victims of a terrorist attack, or people donating money/food or doing activities to restore peace, do share it with kids.

Explain what people do to help the victims of a terrorist attack, how victims are ok after the rehabilitation etc. This will help them to see the silver lining. In spite of the fears they will have the hope and faith that everything will end up in a good way restoring peace.

#7. Assure safety

Tell kids that the government is doing the needful to stop such activities and that they are safe.

Save your kids away from antisocial groups:

Now that you have explained what terrorism is and helped to lessen the fear and added some good hope in your kids mind, it is your duty to make sure that your kid is not going behind these violent ways or antisocial ways. For that you should start preparing them from a very young age.

  • Explain what is good and bad

Explain what is the difference between good and bad. Explain in simple language that violence is not a solution to any problem and people should never harm others for their own benefits.

Encourage good acts and explain the consequences of doing bad to others. Not that you do bad and go to hell. Instead explain what the real consequence is.

  • Listen to your kids

Always find out time to discuss with your kids what happened in school or what they played with friends. Listen to your kids always to find out whom they are hanging out with, what they are doing and correct them in a good way if they choose the wrong path.

  • Teach kids tolerance

Encourage mingling with people in spite of religion or ethnicity. For each of us our culture and religion is close to heart. So teach the good things that your religion/country follow. But along with that don’t forget to teach your kids to respect other people/religion/ country/ ideology.

Remember it is how tolerant we are to each other’s idea that matters. Everyone has his or her own views and ideas. Respect it. Accept it. Teach kids that they should never impose their ideologies on others. You can follow your path, let others follow their path and the path should be of non-violence and respect to others.

  • Watch what they play

Never encourage kids to play games similar to terrorist attacks or robbery or games with guns. This gives them a feeling that it is ok to do such things.

  • Warn them to avoid bad company

Now days we hear a lot of news on kids being used for violent activities. So it is a must that we save our kids from such rackets that use kids as weapons. So warn your kids about such people and always keep an eye on how your kids are spending their time.

  • Be a good role model

Be a good role model to your kids. Don’t criticize any religion or country in front of kids. Help others and show empathy to others. Kids learn from you. It is how you react to a situation that matters.

Kids also will react the same way you show. So keep watch on your reactions and deeds. Be good, do good and your kids will be good.

Hope this article helped you to give an answer to your kid’s questions on terrorism.

Have you tried to explain terrorism to kids? How does your kid react to such incidents?

Reply in comments please.


About Author

Anu Prabin is a software engineer turned freelance writer who loves to pen down her journey and experience as a mother. She likes to connect with like-minded moms. Movies, books, and food are the three things that cheer her up. She enjoys doing arts and crafts with her son and shares various fun activities for kids through her Instagram account @thebacktoschoolmom. She wholeheartedly promotes the habit of reading in kids and considers books as the perfect gift for any occasion. A typical Kerala mom, she is currently settled in UAE along with her husband and son.


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