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9/11 a Life-Defining Day for the Young
Date:9/8/2011

ttacks, to help them understand them and to deal with fears and questions that may result, said psychologist Robin Gurwitch, coordinator of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

To open the conversation, parents might start by asking their kids if they want to talk about the events of 9/11, and then letting them express their emotions and thoughts, Gurwitch suggested.

Parents may be surprised by what they hear.

A Nickelodeon special -- "What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001" hosted by newswoman Linda Ellerbee -- interviewed kids who thought that the terrorists were from Iraq or Japan, who thought 500 planes disappeared, or who thought the attacks never really happened.

"They may have some misperceptions. They may think, 'All people in the Middle East hate America.' It's important for parents to explain that's not accurate. We want to make sure that we gently correct and supply correct information," Gurwitch said.

She remembers her own daughter asking her 10 years ago about a group of children who were rumored to have been kidnapped and held by terrorists in Washington, D.C.

When it's your turn to talk, you might find yourself stumped for words. War and terrorism are difficult subjects to broach with children, because even adults can be at a loss to explain why something so terrible could happen.

Choose your words carefully, to keep explanations simple and brief. And never underestimate the power of a hug and some reassurance from Mom or Dad, experts advised.

And, of course, what you'd discuss with a teen will be different than how you'd approach the topic with a younger child.

Also, keep in mind that children watch their parents closely. Their ability to recover from traumatic situations is often dependent on how well their parents cope, experts said.

"When we as adults remember this anniversary and commemorate it and watch the stor
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