On Thursday, two schoolchildren in Maharashtra's Uran (50km from Mumbai) separately said they saw suspicious-looking armed men at the bus depot at 6:30am while they were on their way to school. They informed their school principal, who then alerted the police. This is a grim reminder that we live in times of terror, and our children need to be equipped to understand what it entails and how to deal with it.
Preschoolers to middle-school kids
- Avoid letting them watch disturbing footage in the news. It is best to turn off the TV when such footage is being played, as their little minds are very impressionable.
- Make sure they know by heart important information like your phone number and where they live. They need to have that kind of information in hand in case of an emergency.
- If they do engage in play that has some kind of violence, like a house that has been bombed or people who are shooting at each other, ensure the role play ends positively by letting them know that the police (good guys) have arrived and that community workers are helping rebuild the house. They need to understand the difference between good and bad, in every scenario.
Tweens and teens
- With older kids, talk about what they already know and what people are telling them. Clear misconceptions, if they have any. For example, if they assign terrorism to a particular group or religion, make them aware that every religion has good and bad people and it is wrong to generalize any situation.
- If they panic or feel scared, reassure them. It is important they feel safe at all times and not get paranoid.
- Talk to them about possibility and probability. Tell older kids that terrorism is a reality in the world but the probability of them facing it at any point in their lives in fairly minimal.
- Train your kids to know that if they ever get into a terrorism-like situation, they need to stay calm and look out for people who can help them get to safety. For example, the police or an elder who is looking out for them.