Love, Always

Talking to children about tragedy

Today, September 11, I had the privilege of being interviewed live on KHON2 TV’s Wake-Up 2Day by morning news anchor, Ron Mizutani (below right).

09-11-15_Keiki Talk_Mizutani
The topic?  How to talk to your keiki about tragedy (specifically, 9/11.)

[“Keiki” means “child” in Hawaiian.]

I shared ideas on how to talk to preschoolers, as well as elementary and middle schoolers, about this tragedy.

It was such an honor to impart this information to viewers all over the State of Hawaii (and all over the world via live stream).

Missed the interview? Click here to watch:

Want a brief recap of what I said? Read on.


First, see how much they know (this applies to all ages.)

Ask: “What do you know about 9/11, have you heard of it?”

They may know more than you expect. A 4-year-old might have picked up pieces of information. Straighten out any misconceptions. Keep explanations brief and simple.

Assure the children that they are safe.

Elementary schoolers

Generally speaking, school age kids have most likely heard about 9/11—from TV or at school (from teachers or peers.) Find out what they know, clear up any misinformation they might have. Give age-appropriate explanations, limit the details.

Start a dialogue. Find out how they feel and what they think about this tragedy.

Reassure them that the authorities are working hard to keep everyone safe.

Middle schoolers

These kids have probably formed some perceptions about 9/11. Find out what they know, listen carefully… let them talk — and then offer input.

Limit all children from seeing sensational images, like the twin towers falling. It is OK for them to watch images that aren’t too graphic.

Model appropriate behavior — don’t be glued to coverage of the anniversary. It’s not good for you or for your kids.