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Explaining 9/11 to younger kids

As the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks draws nearer, the news will be packed with stories looking back at the trauma and those it most affected, but everyone will have their own ways of coping.

"There's two real distinct lines of thought," said Kim Baldwin, a psychologist at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center.

She said while some people prefer not to hear about the event because they're concerned with re-energizing the tragedy, others think it's extremely important to look back and honor it.

Stories will be floating around everywhere people look, whether they focus on the attacks, the aftermath or the occasional personal recollections of families affected.

"Half of the people will love those stories and the other half will turn the channel," Baldwin said.

In the midst of dealing with their own emotions about 9/11, parents may be wondering what kind of effect it will have on their children who are too young to have known the event but old enough to understand something is wrong.

The coming week could prove to be confusing as they wonder why their parents or others around them are especially saddened or distressed when it seems like just another regular day.

Baldwin said even though the younger generation won't understand what's going on, parents shouldn't hide their own emotions to protect their kids from the tragedy.

"Kids live in feelings, so parents do best always in being authentic," Baldwin explained. "Whatever feelings you have, give your children a very simple, straight up explanation."

For example, Baldwin said to explain that America was attacked 10 years ago, many people died and now we're taking time to remember all of the brave heroes.

"Don't focus so much on the attacks, but the way we pulled together as a response," Baldwin said.

She added that parents don't need to explain the attacks to their children unless they specifically ask.

"I wouldn't just send out a message you should anticipate this as traumatic, because I don't think the kids are going to have any reaction," Baldwin explained. "They're not going to really be that affected by this. It just isn't part of their experience."

The psychologist compared 9/11 for children with the way she sees some previous tragedies for most adults today.

"If you go to World War I -- it was a tragic war, but nobody really connects to it," she said. "I don't know that there's much healing in connecting to those tragedies."