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How To Talk To Your Kids About The Istanbul Attack

On Tuesday, at least three suicide bomb attacks rocked Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey's largest airport. The attack left at least 36 dead, hundreds more injured, and people all over the world in shock at yet another act of senseless violence. While it might be tempting to avoid discussing the subject with your children, it's important that they hear it from you, as opposed to getting their information in a way that might be more damaging. And although there's no way to fully explain how these sorts of things happen, there are some tips for how to talk to your kids about the Istanbul attack.

The level of detail you go into as you present the facts to them will depend on their age, of course. With very young children, you may not need to tell them at all unless they're at risk of hearing about it elsewhere. Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, told Today that she recommends giving "a one-sentence story to anyone under 6" when explaining a violent event, saying something like "a bad man hurt people."

With older children, it's best to avoid graphically violent details and images. One thing that's helpful is to turn off the news. While it's important to stay up to date on what is going on, the 24-hour news cycle leads to a lot of replaying and speculating, as well as to some imagery that could be upsetting to little ones. It's better if you sit down and talk to your kids about Istanbul in a concentrated way (leaving the door open to further questions whenever they arise) without the constant background of scenes from the attack.

Your children may be scared, which makes total sense. (I'm freaking terrified to live in a world where this keeps happening.) Try to allow them the freedom to articulate their fears, while reminding them that attacks like these are statistically rare.

You can also work, as you talk to them, to focus on the glimmers of hope. It's possible to look at the good while allowing space to grieve about and be confused by the bad. Find examples of people who helped, and people who bravely demonstrated the best of humanity in the face of its worst, like the cop who tackled one of the suicide bombers to prevent others from getting hurt:

And make sure to focus on how you and your children can help. It's easy to feel totally powerless in the face of such violence, but there are ways to act, whether it's by making a donation with your child to the Red Cross or a similar charity, or by writing a letter with them to your local politician about what can be done to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Talking with your children about Istanbul won't be easy, but it's important.