Miss A Columnist

Mary Litton has lived in the DC area for over 12 years, and after an exciting career in public and international relations, she exchanged her gowns and glitz for jeans and playground shoes to stay home and raise her two young children. When she isn't practicing the Jedi arts or learning to sing the alphabet song backwards, she can be found at her computer working on her great American novels. While the only champagne in her life these days is the color of her minivan, she enjoys exploring the fun and fabulous side of the city through the eyes of her children. Grateful to a city that offers free museums and fearless in her quest for adventure, she and the kids take advantage of nearly all of the District's wonderful destinations. If you have something for moms, children or families that you would like covered on Miss A, please contact Mary at mary.litton@askmissa.com.

Helping Children Understand 9/11

Photo Credit: University of Michigan Health System

As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many parents wonder how to best explain this day to their children and how to help children cope with anxieties and questions about that devastating day. Each child will have a different way of dealing with the day, whether they are just learning about it in school or they lived through the harrowing day as we did. There are a few universal tips to navigating your conversation with your children, no matter their age or knowledge of the events.

Listen. Allow the child to explain what they know and ask any questions, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Actively listen to them and be respectful of their emotions, allowing them to express any feelings they may have. If you are having trouble getting the dialogue started, try a few open questions such as “What would you like to know about 9/11” or “What have you learned about 9/11?” Try to stick to facts when answering questions, and remember that it is okay to acknowledge that we still don’t have a lot of answers.

Make them feel secure. The most important thing you can do for your child is to reassure their safety. Talk about how society has changed to make us more secure. Remind them that airports have tightened security, communities have become more vigilant, and point out how even schools have added precautions to keep us safe. As you discuss that day, keep reinforcing that while there are people who do bad things, your child is safe.

Acknowledge the day carefully. 9/11 is a hard day for most people. While it is okay to be solemn and reflective, watch your own mood and the coping skills that you exhibit to your children. Also carefully supervise their media consumption as they may see disturbing images from the day on TV or hear disturbing accounts on the radio.

Reinforce a message of hope. Make sure to emphasize the stories of heroes on that day. Emphasize the way communities came together to comfort each other. Use the day to do a community service project together or make a thank you card for local fire fighters.


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