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Telling Your Kids About bin Laden’s Death

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The whole world is talking about the death of Osama bin Laden’s death. But how do you talk to your children about it?

The celebrations over bin Laden’s death can be confusing for children, experts warn, and it’s good advice to talk to kids about it, even if they don’t bring it up themselves.

From the White House lawn to New York City and even here in the Inland Empire crowds were cheering over the 9/11 mastermind’s death like their sports team had just won a big game.

One could only imagine what runs through a child’s mind when watching or hearing about this type of scene. I’ve spoken to several of my psychiatrist and psychologist colleagues. Here’s what they advise.

Around age nine, most children start to understand that death is irreversible.

That’s why it’s very important to talk in clear and concrete terms to these older children about Osama’s death, avoiding abstract concepts.

Be careful, searing images of the 9/11 attacks can trigger fear and bad memories in children.

Experts suggest parents could start a conversation by explaining who bin Laden was and why people think he’s such a bad guy. Most importantly, parents should follow their children’s lead.

Generally speaking, that's a really important strategy. If your child is interested, curious, confused, it’s often most useful to wait until your child initiates the questions or conversation and then follow their lead with the types of question and the kind of depth at which you might address the subject.

But if your child does not ask questions, experts advise parents to bring it up in general terms – like asking, “Have you heard about Osama bin Laden?” and let children know you are available to answer any specific questions they may have.

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