For Kids: Dealing With the Terrorist Attacks

It’s hard to believe what’s happened. It’s even harder to watch the images we’ve all been seeing in the newspapers and on TV. Terrorism is a violent act committed by people who want to get attention for their cause. Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place. Right now, it seems like the entire world is upside down and confusing.

Everyone has questions they want to have answered and feelings they need to express. So how do you cope with it all? Here are some things you can do:

  • Talk it out and share your feelings with others. You may be feeling different emotions at different times. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Even numbness—not feeling anything at all. These feelings are normal reactions to this tragedy. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel and listen to others as they share their feelings with you. Your parents, friends, teachers, and others can help you and you can help them.
  • Be respectful of others. People are upset. In the next few days and weeks, you may hear people talking about who is to blame. You may even hear angry remarks about whole countries and groups of people. Don’t give in to feelings of prejudice.
  • Give yourself a fear reality check. After seeing so much destruction and death, watching people crying on the streets, and sensing the fear and possible anger of those around you, it’s hard not to be worried about your safety and the safety of your family. The images you see on TV make the terrorist attacks seem so close by, even if you live far away from where they happened. Remember that the chances that a terrorist will hurt you are very, very small.
  • Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying too much can make you sick. As much as possible, try to get enough sleep, eat right, and keep a normal routine. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to deal with your situation.
  • Take a TV break. Although it’s natural to want to know what’s happening, don’t spend hours glued to the television set. Taking a break from watching what’s going on in the world is OK. Read, play board games, or go outside.
  • Help out and be with others. In times of tragedy, people find comfort in banding together to help and in giving each other support. Kids may feel like there’s not much they can do, but there is. Although you might not be able to give blood or volunteer to help with the cleanups, you can help your school organize an event to raise money or collect items to help the victims. You can also take part in prayer ceremonies, memorial services, and other events in your neighborhood or community. Even holding a friend’s hand, singing a patriotic song, or giving someone a hug can make you feel better.

Reviewed by: Neil Izenberg, MD 
Date reviewed: September 2001

Reprinted from with permission.
Copyright 2001. The Nemours Foundation.