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Ask open questions that can help ensure that the conversation is guided by the interests and feelings of the child. For example: What would you like to know about what happened? How are you feeling now? How was it for you to talk about this?

Drawing of boy crying. A tv with a person with a gun and a boat with two people.
Children's drawing drawn at the 22 July centre


Try to understand how the child experiences the conversation. Help the child to take the initiative and find the right words without controlling what is being said. Not all children want to talk about difficult topics and it is important to respect that.

Drawing with a man in a house. The text I hope it never happens again. Three red hearts.
Children's drawing drawn at the 22 July centre

Be clear and direct

Use simple words to convey clear information and answers using facts. Remember that children of reading age can find a large amount of information from unreliable sources. It is therefore important to focus on factual aspects and prevent speculation and conspiracy theories. Adapt your own language to the developmental level of the child.

Two people and a dragon in red and purple on a black background. A little red heart. Text Dragon against love. Ida 5 years.
Drawing by child at the 22 July Centre.

Admit that you do not have all the answers

Difficult topics are complex and wide-ranging. It is therefore likely that you will be asked questions that you do not know the answers to. If this happens, be honest with the child and tell them that you do not know.

Drawing of a white dove with a green leaf in its beak. Text Spread your wings and fly to the castle in the sky. Rest in peace. Ronja 11 years.
Drawing by child at the 22 July Centre

Create peace of mind

Speak calmly and make sure that the child feels that they can trust you. Pay attention to your own emotional and physical reactions. Children are guided by the reactions of others. When you talk to young children, sit or crouch down so that you are at eye level.

Children's drawing with a red rose with a green stem. In front of what might look like windows. Sunset in different colors in the background. With inscription: "Never again 22th July. We will never forget you" (2022)
Drawing at the 22 July Centre.

Be accepting of emotions

Children experience a variety of emotional reactions to the same events. These reactions vary depending on age, previous traumatic experiences, nationality or religious and cultural background. There are no right or wrong emotional reactions to fear and anxiety. Be prepared for unexpected emotional reactions. Remember that the goal is to understand and alleviate strong emotions, not to inflict them.

Drawing of a rose with two leaves. Text: A rose cannot heal a person, but it can show that you care. Leona 9
A rose can't heal a person, but it can show that you care. Leona 9

Strike a balance between being specific and sensitive

Leave out the gruesome details and avoid using metaphors or euphemisms when talking about those who lost their lives. Avoid generalisations in relation to topics such as terrorism or extremism. Avoid stereotypes and simplifications. Instead of highlighting what went wrong or apportioning blame, tell specific stories about those who survived or those who helped others to survive.

Children's drawing of a blue high-rise building and a car but a figure saying "I am a policeman".

Make sure that the child experiences a positive ending!

Emphasise the importance of hope and community. Wrap up with a positive message and note that serious terrorist attacks like these are extremely rare and much rarer than all of the good things we experience in life. It is important to create peace of mind by explaining that many measures have now been taken to prevent attacks like these and that the perpetrator will not be released for a very long time. Suggested wordings: “We are safer now because many changes have been made since then. We have learned a lot. The politicians have decided that there are a lot of things we will do differently to make sure that nothing similar can happen again. For this reason, many adults feel much safer now.”

A bleeding heart with the text 22 July and a rose. Above is the text: Evil can kill a man but never defeat a people. Subject tag We never forget. Emma 15 years.
Drawing by child at the 22 July Centre.

Follow up

It is a good idea to get the child to engage in constructive activities, such as drawing, to supplement the conversation and process their emotions.