How to talk to your preschooler about September 11

On September 11, 2001, we were all forever changed. And even though it’s been 18 years since that faithful day where America’s true spirit was tested, we will always remember.

As parents of preschoolers, it should be up to us when and how our children should learn about September 11. Especially in this age of social media where our kids are exposed to all sorts of information. No matter how much we try to protect them, they will learn about it. Here are some suggestions on how to handle it when it comes up.

Whether it’s 9/11 or any tragic event, make sure you find a way to talk to them in such a way that it won’t freak them out. According to Dr. Lori Walsh, a NY-based clinical psychologist, find out first what they know as that becomes a great starting point for conversation.

Make sure to correct any misperceptions. Preschoolers tend to over simplify and make up crazy stories. Explain it to them in a simple way, leaving out details about the horrors of that day. They don’t need to know that bad people wanted to attack America and kill civilians. Just say that two airlines crashed into these really tall buildings in New York on September 11.

No matter what you say and how you say it, make sure you end it with them feeling they are safe. That they don’t need to worry. “You want them to feel that their little world is still secure,” says Walsh. Tell them that mommy and daddy loves them and that they will always be there to protect them.