My kids are hearing lots about 9/11, and I’m not sure what to tell them or how to handle this.

Thanks to all of you have asked for my help on how to respond to questions and emotions that kids have regarding the 9/11 tragedy. I think it’s wonderful that each year we take the time to remember 9/11, such an important day in our Nation’s history – it provides us with a powerful reminder to pause and be grateful for what we have in our lives, as well as a time to be sad over those who lost their lives.

If your children are coming home from school today and asking questions, I would like to encourage you to open up dialogue with them. Be honest about your feelings about 9/11, and let your kids know that it’s okay to be sad. Tonight can become a teachable moment for you as a parent to show your children that it’s important to deal with our feelings (or to quote my tagline from a new product that I will be releasing soon, “feelings are real and something we feel, what matters the most is the way that we deal”).*

So how do I teach them to “deal,” you ask? Let them know that it’s okay to cry, hang their head, be sad and remember. They don’t need to hide their feelings (nor do you). You might even do something in memory of this sad day: plant a tree or flowers, color a picture together or give your child a hug and read a happy story. The important thing is to take some time to be sad and then let it go!

Hugs to all you today, especially to those of you who lost loved ones. Dr. Ann

*Coming soon: Pocket Full of Feelings, a product for family emotional literacy learning.