My ten-year-old daughter's been exposed to extensive coverage about war and possible new terrorist attacks through the media, her school, and even her friends. Even though we've tried to reassure her, she's afraid of what might happen to our family as a result of these global events. What's the best way to talk to her about what's going on in the world?
Between the descriptions of murder, rape, and now war and terrorism, I'm surprised adults, much less children, are able to click off the nightly news and sleep peacefully. It's almost impossible for young minds to interpret the news with any real perspective. From their viewpoint, these things are happening in their own backyard.
I suggest you treat the nightly news as you would any questionable media for your preteen. Your daughter still will hear things from friends and at school, so it's important you be the one to explain what's going on.
Then grab a globe and show her where Iraq is in relation to your hometown. This will enable your daughter to see that though America's at war, the war isn't in America.
To answer her questions about terrorist threats, try this experiment. Tell her that the odds of being directly affected by terrorism are approximately 1.5 million to 1. Fill a measuring cup with rice (there are roughly 8,500 rice kernels in one cup). Take a marker and color one kernel to represent her, then mix it back into the cup. Have your daughter close her eyes and try to pick out that one colorful kernel. Explain to her that you'd need almost 200 cups to equal 1.5 million kernels of rice, and those are the odds she'll be directly impacted by terrorism.1