Menu

How to talk about 9/11—and other scary world events—with your kids

It’s fine to admit you were scared.

How to talk about 9/11—and other scary world events—with your kids

On the anniversary of September 11, 2001, minds all around the country—even world—go back to that day. We think of the families affected, share memories of where we were when we heard the news and think about how life has changed. For so many of us, it continues to define how we frame life's events: Everything before was pre-9/11. Everything since is post-9/11.


For others, different events or natural disasters may have similar effects on our lives. So, how do we begin to explain their significance to our children?

For pointers on navigating this tricky subject, we reached out to Carole Lieberman, M.D., author of Lions, Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My: How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terrorism.

Get to the bottom of your feelings


First, you need to figure out how you really feel about the events. Depending on your age, you may have felt scared, mad or mostly sad—and it's perfectly fine to admit any of that, says Lieberman. You can then share how the consequences continue to affect life, while discussing the positive ways that people came together.

Also be reassuring. You may use phrases such as, "When I was afraid, my mom and dad were there for me. And I'll always be there for you."

Start the age-appropriate conversations early

"The sooner you have this talk, the better," Lieberman says, adding it's likely your child picked up some information from the media, other kids or overheard conversations. In the beginning, you can keep it simple. Just be sure your children know you are willing to talk about it and want to help clear up any confusion they may have.

To help guide the conversation, respond to the questions your children ask rather than talking about all of the details that may still be difficult for them to understand. Those discussions can happen another year.

Be honest

Lieberman says it's best to explain we can't guarantee an attack or natural disaster will never happen again. "Your child will know you are not telling the truth and it will be scarier that they can't trust you," she says. Then encourage your children to talk about how that makes them feel. If you notice it turns up anxiety in your children, Lieberman says you need to give them a safe space to work through all of that.

Above all, it's important to let children know you'll always work through frightening events as a family—and can come out even stronger on the other side. ❤️

You might also like:

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
News

100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play