Back to School Checklist

As the kids enjoy their remaining time off, you can avoid back-to-school madness by mobilizing now. Here, our Facebook fans share a peek at their late-summer checklists.

See More
/content/bhg/health-family/weight-loss/12-ways-to-boost-your-metabolism

Get Involved in Your Child's Education

Getting involved in your children's education is a proven way to improve their school performance -- here's how.

See More

Which Type of Doctor’s Office Should You Visit?

Whether you've sprained an ankle on vacation or just don't want to wait three weeks for a doctor's appointment, you now have more health care options than ever. A variety of clinics, offering a wide range of services from stitches to wellness exams, are popping up in neighborhoods near you.

See More

Your Top Health Insurance Challenges–Solved!

Trying to understand health insurance, knowing how to appeal a health insurance claim, and trying to organize insurance paperwork is tough. In fact, we surveyed over 1,000 women who told us just how difficult it is to understand health insurance. We culled your biggest challenges and got advice from leading health insurance experts.

See More

10 Habits for a Healthy Life

Seems like a new study comes out everyday telling us what to eat, drink do -- it's enough to make your head spin. Deep breaths. Here's what experts say has true staying power, and how to easily follow their insights.

See More

12 Free and Fun Family Activities

Get ready for summer fun on the cheap with these 12 deals and steals for the family.

See More

Improve Your Home's Air Quality

You know that air pollution is bad for the planet. But what's happening to the air inside your home?

See More
Popular in Health & Family

What Children Understand About War

Expert advice to help you comfort your children in times of conflict.

Be prepared to talk about war withyour children.

What do children understand about war? More than you may think. Experts in child psychology say that American children who absorbed news of the attacks of September 11 are likely to have more a greater fixation on war than their peers of previous generations.

"It's not as foreign a concept as it might have been in years past," says Mary Polce-Lynch, assistant professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. "Because of the terrorist attacks, war is not going to be as abstract to most of our children. We have experienced a massive killing recently and many of them know what that means."

This makes it all the more important that parents and caregivers prepare for how children will react to war and its many effects. How you behave and how you address your children on the topic of war should vary, based on the age and temperament of your child or children. Infants and toddlers obviously require different approaches than school-aged kids and teens. But in all cases, it pays to be aware of developmental differences. Here's advice on what to say and when to say it.

Infants

Even babies are not immune to thesights and sounds of war.

Even though your baby can't discuss war doesn't mean she's completely immune from the emotional fallout. "Infants get their feelings from the way their parents treat them. If they hear worried tones or arguing, that has an effect," says Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, professor emeritus of child development at Syracuse University. Body language is especially telling at this stage, she explains. "This is a primary way an infant knows if mommy or daddy is worried -- and they will react to that."

Because infants are sensitive to touch, you may want to monitor your behavior. Are you watching the news while feeding baby? Holding or playing with her while you discuss current events with another adult in the home? Keep in mind that during these times, while you might not be addressing your baby directly, she's aware of your reactions to the conversation. Try to ensure that bonding activities like feeding and playing aren't clouded by your own anxiety or concerns about war.

In addition, be aware of the amount of time you spend watching TV with your baby in the room. While infants certainly can't understand the content of a newscast, the sights and sounds will still have an effect. "We know from research that even infants will orient to the picture on the TV and that it can have an emotional impact even if the child can't make sense of it," says Honig.

Toddlers and Elementary School-Age Kids

Don't provide too many details toan inquisitive child.

At this age, your child may be developing the verbal skills to converse, but that doesn't mean you should talk a lot about war with your child. In fact, some experts recommend you discuss the topic of war sparingly, if at all.

"Children have a huge right not to know something at an age when they can do little about it," says Dr. Polce-Lynch. "In many cases it is inappropriate for a young child to know about people being bombed or killed. Often all that the discussion will do is make children feel unsafe."

If your young child raises the topic of war with you, make an effort to respond succinctly and specifically to the question, rather than launch into a lengthy discussion of war. Often parents will give more information than a child wants or needs, says Dr. Polce-Lynch. "If your child looks at the television and says 'What's that?' your response might be something like: 'That's a news story about a war in another country.' You are not required to offer up more detail than the child has asked for."

In fact, remember that a lot of detail may overwhelm a child. It's akin to the "Where do babies come from?" question. Parents may feel compelled to offer the long version of the sex education conversation when all that was required was a short, one-sentence response.

Other tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Restrict the amount of time your young child spends viewing images of war on TV or the Internet. Consider watching news accounts and even discussing news of war when the kids are not around.
  • If you do talk about war with your child, emphasize that she is safe in her home, her school, and her neighborhood.
  • Be observant. If you see signs of regression in your child, be aware that war fears may be a cause.
close
close
close
close
close

Loading... Please wait...