On German news site Spiegel Online, editor Christian Stöcker described how his 8-year old daughter had watched the news Tuesday evening. It took him a long time afterward to answer all of her questions.
"The first and most important advice is always: Do not keep it secret," Stöcker wrote. But he soon reached his limits while trying to explain to his daughter how an individual can turn into a suicide bomber. "When she had understood the concept, she nearly started crying," Stöcker wrote.
The challenges he faced were shared by millions of other parents all over the world Tuesday and Wednesday. Psychologists have focused on that difficulty for years. Robin Goodman, an expert at the Child Study Center at New York University, recommends that parents should ask questions, such as: What do you think about it?
"One of the most important things is to make sure that your child knows he can talk to you, ask questions and open up about his fears and other emotions," Katharine Hill, Britain director at Care for the Family, told the British Huffington Post.
Depending on the child's age, reactions may vary. Younger children in particular may react emotionally — whereas primary school students often focus on issues such as responsibility and guilt. Parents should prepare in advance to answer those questions, experts say.
"It is equally important to stay calm and to not dramatize in order to convey a feeling of safety to the child," explained school psychologist Angela Seewald in an interview with European broadcaster SR.
Other psychologists agree: The worst parents could do would be to change their daily routines, such as not allowing children to use subways on their own.