The annual “State of Our Nation’s Youth” report found that one in four American children think that the number-one problem in the USA is the probability of another terrorist attack. Many more young children are concerned, but to a lesser degree. Being that most adults fear the same thing, what can we tell our children? How can we address their concerns and give them some feeling of security?

To start with, there are two things that we, as parents, can do. One thing we can do is to make our children feel more loved and secure in our homes. Studies show that children who get that extra hug and special feeling of love and security within their homes are better able to handle whatever might come their way outside of their homes. The second thing we can do is teach our children that they can do something concrete to protect themselves: we can explain to our children that we recognize that terrorism exists, and therefore we should have our antennas up and be more vigilant; we can show them how to be more aware of their surroundings and of suspicious objects, and to inform an adult if something looks fishy; we can help understand the security rules that are in place to protect us, and that these rules should be appreciated and respected. All this will help children feel they have some control over the situation.

On another level, though we must acknowledge to our children that terrorism exists, we should be able to point out how many good things were done by honorable people in response to the evil that was perpetrated. Children should understand and take comfort from the fact that while we may not have full control over terrorism, we do have control over our own reactions to terrorism. We have the choice of reacting to the evil with evil, or reacting to the evil with something positive. Many people who experience and live through terrorism don’t become negative and distraught, but rather use this evil as a springboard for good things. Countless charities and free-loan societies were started after 9/11—by both children and adults.

On yet another level, we need to discuss with our children why we were created and why we are in this world. That G‑d created us with a purpose, to do good deeds on this world. When children understand that everyone was put on this world to accomplish something, they become less anxious about the “what ifs” and more focused on to living each day to its fullest. Children can understand that when our time is up, it is up, and we don’t have to be afraid, because it’s all part of the big plan—and that the good we accomplish during the time that we are here is eternal. We can explain to them that rather than questioning why some people survive terror and others don’t, we should concentrate on why we are here, what our purpose is, and what we should accomplish while on this earth.

Probably the most important thing we can give a child who fears the unknown is an extra measure of faith. We need to reassure our children that we take all precautions humanly possible to protect ourselves from the bad people in this world who want to harm others; yet we also understand that there is a greater Power running the world, and we believe that everything is for the best.

Tradition teaches us that the darkest times will come before the light—before the ultimate redemption. Having faith, and believing that in the end good will overcome the bad, will make a big difference to the emotional stability of children afraid of the unknown.

Ultimately, if we are to raise normal and healthy children in a world that is fraught with the fear of terrorism, we need to make a strong statement to our children with our lives as an example. They must see that we live with the credo that we will do what is within our power to fight terrorism, but at the same time we recognize that there is a higher Power who is the protector of the world and who will protect us all, and that our primary concern is to do our part in making the world a better, safer, more G‑dly place. Our faith will then transfer to our children, and give them a true feeling of security.