HOME - Back to the Flagpole's menu.  More about the attack on America on September 11, 2001  
Talk to the Children
 Read This
 Patriotic Images
 Song for America
 Essential Links
 You Can Help
 What Price Victory
 Tell the Children
 Add Comments
 Read Comments
 Old Glory


What do we say to the children about 9/11?

Parents are searching for ideas to help them guide, reassure, and comfort their children. It is in a spirit of trying to help, author Mac Bledsoe offers the following suggestions.

  1. Life presents many grave circumstances to everyone, and kids cannot be excluded from life's circumstances… by definition kids are included. We can never protect kids from the realities of life. What we must do is to teach them how to handle the tragedies that confront them! Our actions, as adults, speak far louder than our words. When my ancestors were crossing the plains in a covered wagon, I doubt very much, that their kids often felt very safe. However, I am sure they learned much about dealing with tragedy and fear by simply watching their parents' actions.

    Kids learn more from our backside than they do our front side! It is imperative that we, as parents, be ever mindful of what we do and say in the presence of kids. We must be ever mindful of hateful statements, even if they may be intended only as rhetorical comment on the situation at hand. We must be reasoned in our "thinking-out-loud" because kids often take what we say literally.

    Kids are probably very well served by seeing that adults experience fear, anxiety, and times of great emotion. It then becomes acceptable for them to have similar feelings. Of far greater significance, it is even more important for them to see that these feelings, while deep and honest, do not immobilize us. So too will they avoid being immobilized by their feelings.

  2. There is a false statement that rules the world of some people and that idea is expressed with words like, "I simply can't deal with this," or "This is simply more than I can handle." The truth is simply that everyone can and does deal with every situation that faces them! If a person chooses to lie on the floor kicking like a maniac and screaming like a fool... that person is dealing with whatever faced him/her. The true statement that we must model for kids is that we all will deal with whatever faces us. However, the key idea we must model for our kids is that we all get to choose the response we use to deal with what faces us! What we need to model for our kids in times of crisis and fear is that we can choose to be calm, supportive, and thoughtful in our responses. This does not mean that we show no emotion during tragic and frightening times, but rather that in the face of terrible emotional and physical stress, we maintain an attitude of reasoned response. This difficult but doable response will make kids feel the safest in all situations.

  3. We as parents must view these times of crisis as key opportunities for the expression of love to our children. To quote our "Parenting with Dignity" program, "The time kids most need to hear that we love them is at the very time that we feel least able to say it." In crisis we can become so consumed by the event and our fear for the safety of our kids that we forget to confirm our love for them. We highly recommend that all parents choose this as a time for going to our list of "10 Ways of Communicating Love to Children" and focus on two or three of these each day with each child. Remember too that it is not just the child who shows the most outside evidence of trauma that is needful of confirmation of our love. All kids need to know they are loved in times of crisis. Show them!

  4. One of the key ways to express love is to listen! Give time to kids and simply listen carefully to their thoughts, fears, and questions. You might be shocked at the wisdom of their ideas and questions. As I have watched television reports of the tragedy that struck our nation, kids have offered some of the most enlightening comments and questions. Listen, listen, listen, and listen some more. When listening to kids in times of crisis, it is imperative that parents not fill silence by immediately offering their own ideas. (This would be a good time to use the 6 "listening phrases" proposed under Listen on our Messages of Love page of our website.) Kids usually need time to phrase ideas and thoughts, especially when they are about large and consequential events. Listen and wait… give them time to express themselves.

  5. Give lots of time to your kids. Just seize the time available. Take a walk, play a game, do a puzzle, pick them up from school and go fishing or to the park, read a book, get down on the floor and play with blocks or dolls… but spend time with them!

  6. For kids who are old enough, it will be helpful to cast historical perspective on the events that they are facing. Here is a great time for parents to draw on the wisdom gained from experience of older generations. Seek out grandparents and elderly friends who can offer experiences of past crises so that kids can see hope for themselves in this new situation. At times like this we, as parents, can guide kids in the selection of heroes and role models. As kids begin to make decisions about their own actions, having some great examples of revered people who have acted reasonably and courageously in times past will help kids to find the courage to act intelligently on their own behalf.

  7. Give kids historical perspective by drawing comparisons for them. For example, it might be helpful for kids to hear questions like: "Does the United States have groups and organizations who have some radical, violent, and hateful ideas at the core of their philosophy? Does America have organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi party, the Black Panthers? Would it be reasonable to bomb the United States because of the actions and ideas of those small, radical groups? If those groups act upon their ideas of hatred and violence, what would be a reasonable manner of dealing with their actions?" Perhaps these questions will help you show your child that this tragedy was the result of the hate of a minute number of people and is not a reasonable action.

  8. Democracy teaches self worth. Democracy brings the great comfort that comes with having and using the ability to make decisions and exercising the right to take action. At times of crisis, as the parent and adult, it may be necessary to take unilateral and immediate action. However, as soon as possible it might be very helpful for kids to be included in the decisions concerning actions to be taken by the family. For example, kids might be included in selecting family activities like memorials to attend, prayers and meditations to be offered, ways to show respect and concern, news reports to watch or not watch, or ways and times to get back to business-as-usual in the home.

  9. If your child reverts to a behavior he/she has outgrown, i.e. needing a comfort blanket, potty accidents, tantrums, it simply may be a cry for you to "notice me" or "comfort me" because the stress of the event is making the child feel uncomfortable. As usual, try to ignore or minimize the inappropriate behavior and as soon as is possible, reward appropriate behavior with a hug or an invitation for a game, a walk or some other favorite activity.

    Times of stress magnify problems for both parent and child and simply point out the importance of using solid parenting techniques and strategies. A solid base is necessary for weathering difficult times. It is hard to involve yourself in your children's tough times if you have not been involved all along!

One final thought that might overlay all of our comments is simple in nature but might be one of the most valuable to kids as they attempt to deal with this tragedy. Here it is:

America is a wonderful land of freedom, respect, and joy. It remains so today but it will not remain so without a total commitment from every citizen. The community we have in this great land did not happen by chance; it happened because of the hard work, sacrifice, and commitment of preceding generations. Kids will not know what it takes to build and preserve our freedoms unless we teach them. Take them to meet everyday heroes in hospitals, firehouses, churches, care shelters, charitable organizations and other places where they can rub up against the people who make us a great society.

Help them to understand what our flag stands for. It stands for the freedoms of expression, religion, speech, press, and all other freedoms we hold so dear. It might be even more important to show them that the American flag also stands for a nation that is built on service above self.


Freedom is not guaranteed by birthright; it is built by built by selfless service to community and others. Guide your children to find purpose for their lives in giving to their community through service to others. Help them to join their church, service organizations, and wholesome activities as a way of building strong communities.


Guide kids into YMCA/YWCA's, Boy/Girl Scouts, 4H, Boys/Girls Clubs and other organizations that have as their backbone, teaching kids to live lives of service. In doing so we build a strong and resilient society for our kids to enjoy as we have, while in the process we will be insuring that each of our children will personally know that America is not defined by buildings and wealth but rather by our strong character and sense of mutual respect and support for each other. We are a nation of strong people but it has been no accident!


Teach kids that freedom is only guaranteed by the efforts of individuals just like them all across this great land investing their own efforts in their own communities!


(It seems interesting to note that many of the basic principles upon which this land was created are the same principles that work for effective parenting.)

God bless America and her kids!

Visit the Parenting With Dignity web site and learn about the good things they are doing to help America's children.

Inside TheFlagPole:




Sponsored by:



Didn't find it here....


This site is presented to the people, by the people and for the people of the United States of America.
If you have suggestions or comments, please email Content Rating

Site created by Webunet