Experts say the first and most important thing you can do is always be available to answer questions that kids have.
Vesna Hart worked as an elementary school teacher in Croatia for eight years. She handled many situations with kids traumatized by war. Hart says, "What I've found in my work with children is that it's not children who are afraid of sharing their experiences and thoughts. It's adults who are afraid how to handle a situation when they get that information."
Hart says to let your kids ask as many questions as they want. She says, "Let the children bring up questions and follow their lead into clarifying what is happening and just help them go through this period."
Reassure, reassure, and reassure.
Hart says, "What parents can say is ‘I love you and my love will always be with you.’ That is true and fair to children."
Try to control your response, but be honest.
Dr. Lennis Echterling says, "I think it's important for us to be reassuring and yet to be realistic with children the same way we would do in terms of how children should behave around strangers or how they should deal with busy streets."
Echterling also says it's important for you to remind small children that the images they're seeing on TV happened a year ago. He says, "Children may not be aware that this is a replay of last years events and so they may think it's happening once again so parents can reassure children if they happen to see an event on TV during the day that no, 'This is last year. This is not happening now.' "
Many schools will be observing a moment of silence on Wednesday morning. It might be helpful to call ahead and find out what your child's school is doing to reflect on the event.