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How to Explain to Your Kids What Happened to Osama Bin Laden

It’s all over the news.  The US military has killed Osama Bin Laden.  US citizens are reacting with a mix of jubilation; patriotism; and quiet, thoughtful relief and gratitude.  Some people are also mourning the loss of a life, however dangerous that life may have been.  How can you help your kids understand the complexities involved in the life and death of Osama Bin Laden and what that represents to the Western world?

  • Explain to your kids, in an age-appropriate manner, that people sometimes just can’t manage to agree on things. This is especially true if the people do not have strong ties in common. It is more likely that people with different cultures, religions, languages, and paradigms will have subjects on which they differ than people who have shared culture, religion, language, and paradigms. (Note: ensure that your kids understand that, even with all these things in common, differences of opinion will still occur as no two people agree on everything.)
  • Explain that differing perspectives are ok . . . that understanding and acceptance of others is essential.
  • Explain to your kids that there is good and bad in everyone. Also explain the difference between saying a behavior is bad and saying a person is bad.
  • Remind your kids about the consequences of repeated bad behaviors of similar sorts. For example, if your kids speak harshly one time, they may simply be verbally redirected. However, if your kids would speak harshly repeatedly, a simply verbal redirection may not effectively correct the problem. The bigger the problem is (both in terms of frequency and severity), the more strongly the response must be from the parent or authority figure.
  • Discuss the fact that all life is precious. When someone begins taking the lives of others, that loss of life must be stopped. Sadly, there may be times, when all else has failed, that the person who has repeatedly taken the lives of others, must lose his/her own life to protect society from further loss of innocent lives.
  • Encourage your kids to see loss of life as a grievous (but sometimes necessary) experience.
  • Help your kids view the death of bin Laden as a solemn loss of life but an opportunity for everyone in the Western world to live a safer life. When news footage of people portraying jubilation is aired, do not condemn this behavior. Instead, let your kids know that people deal with dramatic events in different ways.
  • Reassure your kids that their safety is your top concern and the top concern of their government as well. Help them to feel safe going forward.
  • Respond to any questions or concerns that they may have.
  • Minimize other emotional or stressful events in your kids’ lives for several weeks while they process the information they have been given and work their way through whatever emotions they may be experiencing as a result.
  • Approximately every second day for several weeks, ask your kids what they are thinking and feeling about what they hear and see about Osama bin Laden. This is a hot topic. It’s widely discussed, widely covered by the media, and in the forefront of the minds of many. It’s folly to think that your kids aren’t exposed to information about bin Laden on a daily basis. Try as you might, you can’t fully shelter your kids from this. All you can do is be available for your kids, be responsive to their thoughts and feelings, provide them information and comfort, and minimize other stressors in their world for several weeks.
  • If, after several weeks, your kids have not manifested worry, stress, grief, fear, panic, or other negative emotions related to Osama bin Laden, then it is probably safe to conclude that your kids do not need further follow-up from you on the matter. If, however, your kids continue to express negative emotions or continue to ask questions which indicate that they are still trying to understand the situation, then you should persevere in follow-up with your kids.

By following these steps, you can help your kids understand and cope with the dramatic nature of the recent world events.  For more useful tips, continue to visit Nannies4hire.com.

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