Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12    

How to talk to your kids about domestic terrorism



They know something’s up, so don't ignore it

How to talk to your kids about domestic terrorism


All parents I know have wrestled with exactly how and when to shield children from emotional harm. 

You forbid certain games or shows; you turn the TV off when something inappropriate happens; you stop talking to your spouse about something “adult” when the kids are afoot. And yet there are times when we can’t, and shouldn’t, do those things. We need to explain something like the historic January 6th domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol Building. Writing for Fatherly, editor Murphy Moroney and parenting expert and educational psychologist Reena B. Patel offer some helpful insight into constructive ways to go about this.

The attack in response to Trump losing a second term is too critical to ignore, though of course the magnitude of it can be intimidating. Moroney writes: “As an act of domestic terrorism that was incited by a sitting President, speaking with children about what happened is important. Although parents might be hesitant to bring up the insurrection with young children, preschool-aged kids can digest a basic understanding of what happened, particularly if they saw images or video footage on TV.”

Three particular factors are crucial to helping your kids process the events: a safe space, asking questions, and being honest while also being mindful: “When it comes to discussing these events,” Moroney writes, “be sure to use direct language and avoid sugar-coating the event with young children.”

READ MORE: Answering our kid’s questions about violence in the world

Dr. Patel says: “State the facts: A group of individuals broke the law and demonstrated actions that looked scary and are wrong to make a point. They used hate by destroying the government and the people’s property. Let [children] know there are rules in our society and no one, not even [President Trump], can break the rules. That is why we have the Constitution.”

Don’t shy away from the violence, Dr. Patel writes: “Violence is a form of hate and even words can express hate,” she advises you to say. “What happened at the Capitol building was wrong and there are always other ways to get your point across."

Especially as the rioters call themselves “patriots,” talk about patriotism, and give examples of what it looks like, including:

  • Saying the Pledge of Allegiance and thinking about what the words stand for

  • Discussing what the stars and stripes on the flag mean

  • Honoring veterans through making cards or raising money

  • Discussing the principles of the Constitution

  • Teaching kids about the voting process

  • Explaining what a truly peaceful protest looks like

The horrific assault on democracy, and a sacred building and institution, can become a teaching moment. Not necessarily a pleasant one, but an important one.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • View eagles in Mongaup

    Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area designated a Bird Conservation Area

    Mongaup was designated a Bird Conservation Area because of its unique combination of habitats important to bird species. read more »
  • Hike Smart & Be Prepared

    Safety tips for getting out in the winter months

    NYS DEC offers tips to keep you and your family safe while enjoying the outdoors this winter. read more »
  • Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program

    Adventure Awaits Students Ages 6-9

    The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program for children ages 6-9 has quickly become one of the Nature Museum’s most beloved programs. Originally created out of the needs of families undertaking distance/learning, the program has proved so popular it has remained in place by demand. read more »
  • 5 ways parents can get prepared for student loan repayments

    Tips to help you survive student loan payments

    If you’re a parent who took out a federal student loan for your child and you’ve been taking advantage of the payment freeze as part of the COVID-19 emergency relief, then things are about to change. Starting January 31, 2022, payments will resume and no further extensions are expected. read more »
  • STEAM learning toys for your little ones

    Young kids have fun while learning letters and numbers

    Edx Education teaches letters and numbers through hands-on play read more »
  • DCP offers tips to help New Yorkers stay safe and warm

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection warns New Yorkers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards during extreme cold weather

    The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today issued a consumer alert about the dangers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards in extreme cold weather. The winter months pose the most risk for these hazards—as the temperatures drop, consumers may turn to dangerous heating alternatives to stay warm. Propane heaters, generators, space heaters and/or outdoor grills all pose lethal risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards when used improperly. read more »
  • New gardening series with Newburgh Free Library

    Learn about herbs, microgreens, seeds, planning and planting

    Newburgh Free Library has a new gardening series starting with NUFFI, or Newburgh Urban Farm and Food, starting in February! read more »
  • Get up to 4 free at-home Covid-19 tests for your family

    The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests

    The Biden Administration is Buying One Billion Tests to Give to Americans for Free; Online Ordering of a Half-Billion Tests Begins on January 19th; Builds on Significant Actions to Expand Testing Capacity and Increase Access to Free Testing read more »
  • New York’s Going Foam Free in 2022

    NYS is working to keep our environment safe

    In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts. read more »
  • Sherman Artists Open Studio – This Weekend!

    Painters, photographers, mixed media, jewelers, fused glass, and fabric artists will open their home studios

    This weekend is the very first Sherman Artists First Open Studio! Fifteen local Sherman artists are participating in the Sherman Open Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, December 4th and 5th, 2021, 10 am – 4 pm. Painters, photographers, mixed media, jewelers, fused glass, and fabric artists will open their home studios or participate in pop-up studios read more »