How do I explain this

How do I explain it to my child?

Mr. Bräuer, how can parents raise the issue of terror in their child? Or do you wait until it comes to you? 

Jörg Bräuer: A problem only arises once the child realizes the situation. Parents should not speak to their child on their own initiative, but only when the child deals with it. When a child becomes thoughtful or asks questions, conversation must be sought. So it's a response to the child's behavior.

It is also important to speak to the child as soon as possible so that they can classify the action. You should also be particularly sensitive.

It is different with older children and adolescents. From the age of 12-13 you can also ask children and young people how they experience the situation and what they think about it.

Do I always have to tell the complete truth or can a “white lie” help?

Jörg Bräuer: Children have a right to the truth and are better able to deal with honesty. When something bad happens, whether it's a terrorist attack, the death of a relative or an accident, you have to be honest with the child, the facts should be given. However, I should think carefully about the details that I can expect from the child.

For the child, a picture of the situation must emerge that can be resolved, for example through approaching help and support. For example, you can tell about the police or the ambulance that are there. It is important for the child to know that there are people who take care of it. The child must be taken out of responsibility. It must not feel responsible for the situation because it cannot do anything itself.

In addition, the following applies: the more composed parents are towards the situation, the more composed a child can deal with it.

Keep calm - but this is often difficult in threatening situations. Fear and nervousness are carried over to children. How do I still give my child security?

Jörg Bräuer: I think it is important to be honest with the child. You can safely say that you can't believe it yourself or that you are sad. These feelings must be justified in an understandable way for the child. Parents should be able to name their own feelings.

Those who can react clearly and calmly give a child a sense of security.

If necessary, the child can be put off for a short time. Sentences like: "I have to sort myself out first" are therefore entirely justified.

Children often still think in black and white and divide the world into good and bad.How do I explain the difference between good and bad to my child?

Jörg Bräuer: It is important to me that when one speaks of "the evil one" one always refers to the action of the person and not to the person in general. You can explain to the child that, for example, it is bad to hurt or kill others. Perhaps man himself was afraid and hopeless, could not cope with his life and did not know what to do. If the person chooses to do an "evil" act, it is bad. Only in extreme cases should one speak of bad people. It is also important to always emphasize "the good". For example, that it is good to help people and not to hurt others.

Children are also afraid of being at risk themselves. What can I do against it?

Jörg Bräuer: This fear should be taken away from the children. Parents can explain to their child that they do not believe that a terrorist attack will also happen to them. It is more likely to be run over by a car than to be the victim of a terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the child should be told that they should be attentive and have a good look at their surroundings.

Are there rituals that help me and my child to deal with the situation?

Jörg Bräuer: It is important to react to the respective situation. I think conversations are the best. There are also a few other approaches:

Rituals that will help deal with the situation:

  • It can be nice to tinker something for the victims' remaining ones. This allows children to process their pain better.
  • If the child so wishes, they can help to donate part of the pocket money when a donation is made.
  • Prayer can also be a ritual to deal with a terrorist attack and death. Evening prayer is a great way to do this. But only if the child already knows how to pray. However, one should not reintroduce prayer as a consequence of a bad attack.
  • It is possible to send a "star mail" to the deceased people who are no longer in the world. The letter can contain the child's best wishes. This gives the child a perspective for eternal life after death. Where are the people now? As Christians we can trust that life does not end with death and this can also be explained to children. People are now with God in heaven.

[Johanna Welcker]