Coping With Psychological Warfare at Home
Learn how to defend yourself from the psychological terror that war brings.
Protecting Children From Psychological Warfare continued...
Carr says it's hard enough for adults to fathom current
international affairs, and it's even more difficult for children to understand
the images they see without being able to put them into the proper context.
"My concern is that for any child watching television,
there is a potential that they could generalize it to the world at large,"
says Carr. "If they are not able to understand that the event is far away,
they may have difficulty understanding that it's not an immediate
Car says the tragedy of 9/11 has also made it harder for
parents to explain away atrocities that their children might see on
"I think that years ago parents could say to their kids,
'Well that's not happening here and it's not going to happen here,'" says
Carr. "I don't think parents can necessarily say that anymore
But she says it is OK for parents to let their children know
that they're afraid, too. Otherwise children may pick up on the disconnect
between the fear they see in their parents faces and a refusal to talk about
Mental health experts and organizations, including the American
Psychiatric Association, say the most effective way to protect children from
the effects of psychological terror is to be aware of what their children are
watching on television and on the Internet and be available to answer their
Other ways to help children deal with disturbing images
Monitor children's TV viewing to avoid exposure to disturbing
images whenever possible. They may be particularly confusing and troubling to
very young children who lack the communication skills to make sense of
Answer children's questions openly and honestly but gear the
answers to the child's developmental level. Avoid offering too much or overly
Monitor your own reactions. Children will model their parents'
reactions whether they like it or not.
Avoid stereotyping people by their religion or country of
origin. This can promote prejudice in young minds.
Children previously exposed to trauma or violence may be
especially vulnerable to news reports and violent images. Watch for signs of
trouble sleeping, mood changes, or irritability that might be a sign of a
problem that should be evaluated by a mental health professional.
"Parents need to do a lot of listening, being sensitive,
and enabling older kids to talk about what they're feeling," says Figley.
"Younger children are going to be more apt to look at their parents and see
how they're doing."