Coping with the reality of terrorism

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The reality of terrorism, like the attacks in Belgium, affects all of us. But knowing when to walk away from the wall-to-wall news coverage can ease our anxiety.

“It has to do with moving away from the information, looking at other pieces of information and then refocusing with what you do have control over, looking at your own life. What can you do to improve your own life, to connect more with your community,” says Child Psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders with Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital.

Children, she says, are the most vulnerable and look to adults as their role models.

“That’s why it’s so important for parents to be able to kinda contain the information, not just in the news and information that’s coming in, but internally because how they are reacting to things really affects their children.”

She advises parents to respond to their child’s curiosity, no matter the question.

“Sometimes kids seem like they are a very big and open ended question, but they are really looking for a simple concrete answer and so that’s really what parents need to provide is that more simple concrete answer so that it’s not as big and hypothetical so what I always tell parents is – just answer the question.”

Violent acts can trigger questions like, can it happen here?

“We can’t provide promises that bad things won’t happen, but we can provide assurances that our government is trying hard to keep us safe, that we as a community in a family will work hard to keep ourselves safe.”

Dr. Saunders says the bottom line is to minimize the impact as much as possible, by allowing yourself to create a sense of normalcy for you and your family.

Dr. Saunders says younger children need less information compared to a teenager, but parents know their children best and should use their intuition to guide them.

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