Nigel Latta explains how to talk to your kids about terrorism

In the wake of Friday's terror attack in Christchurch, family psychologist Nigel Latta says there's no "one way" to talk your children about terrorism.

Every Christchurch school was in lockdown on Friday from about 2.30pm until about 6pm following the mass shooting at two city mosques, which killed 50 people and injured dozens more.

Parenting expert and television personality Latta joined More FM on Monday to offer some advice on talking to your kids about the attack.

"It's going to be different for different ages and stages," Latta told The Breakfast Club.

"It's also different for different children: two eight-year-olds will be concerned about some quite different things.

"I think the magic rule is you need to answer their questions honestly but pitch it in a way that makes them feel better and not leave gaps. If you leave gaps they'll fill it with their own stuff." 

Latta said it's also important to normalise the fear and concern your kids might be feeling.

"It's really important to say to them that everyone feels like that; it's pretty horrible and everyone is sad and scared a bit worried and its completely normal.

"All children will be aware of this, and children in Christchurch will be going to school this week where some of their classmates might not be there," he said.

But as much as possible, Latta says, parents should try and "shield" younger kids from the worst of the horror. 

"It's normal for all of us to sit and stare at the television and try and just try to understand what's going on, but I don't think it's particularly good for children -  or us to be honest -  to be drenching yourself in the constant media coverage on the news," he explained.

"Don't watch the news when your kids are in the room."

Latta recalled how his then six-year-old son developed a severe stomach ache in the wake of the coverage around the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.

"Little kids do stress physically," he explained.

"Try to keep the background noise to their lives calm and kind in your home so you as a parent can have that be the vibe of the house.

"It's easy for all of us to be caught up in the vibe and the trauma of all of us. But kids can soak this stuff up."

Lastly, Latta says explaining the 'why' to your kids can be the hardest part.

"I think the message should be 'there was this bad person who did this really terrible thing, and there are people in the world who do really terrible things, but most people I the word are actually really good'," he advised.

"[I would say], 'some people get frightened, or upset, or angry about things in their own lives and they try and blame other people. But most people aren't like that, most people are good people, are helpful and kind'."

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