Helping Kids Cope with Rocket Attacks from Gaza

via Ynet





Update:  Mommy from Beersheva responds.

Thirty-nine rockets were volleyed on southern Israel last night from Gaza. One Israeli was killed, and several are hospitalized with light injuries.

This picture, by Yogev Shlomovitz  of Ynet, and shows a rocket headed toward Gan Yavne.

A reader from the south writes:

“I am looking for help as to how to explain the rockets and sirens to kids, especially 3-year-olds . . . My 8-year-old tells her 3-year-old brother that they ‘want to kill us so we try to kill them.'”

I know several of you are in the line of fire.

First of all, we  hope and pray that there will be no more attacks. As of 7 am, a ceasefire is in place.

I haven’t had to deal with this directly since the First Gulf War in 1991, and my son was too small to understand. I do remember that the stress was virtually unbearable.

If you live in Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Yavneh, Sderot, and the surrounding areas, we  are thinking of you. We  would love to hear how you are coping and how you help your kids on a philosophical, emotional and practical level.

Mommy from Beersheva responds.


  1. I am a neighbor of the original “reader from the south.” i commented on facebook: the first gulf war (when my kids were that age) was easier. they knew that “they” were trying to send us “air that would make us sick if we breathed it” and tzahal was not letting them. (very simplistic, not really true, but it worked with the 2 youngest – 3 and 7.)

    hope someone comments with advice.
    and btw, the picture was taken by Yogev Shlomovitz, Yuval’s older brother. both of them are students at our local high school.

  2. I’d say that under the age of six or so explaining doesn’t really help. Really young kids at best will repeat what you said. More important is keep them busy and let them know that you are there for them and with them. Give them a task and make them part of the effort. For example, you can tell them that they should make sure that there is a bottle of water and some cups in the ‘safe space’.
    Once, before the first Lebanon war there was a very serious alert right after Pesach, right around Yom Hashoa (the war actually began two months later, in June) and my eldest – almost six at the time – came home telling me that his friend (who had older siblings) told him that we had to get the shelters ready because the Germans were going to come from across the Syrian border (we were living in Ramat Hagolan at the time) and put us in cages. We assured him that the Germans were far away and that all the dads would be going to the army to help keep the Syrians out as well. (And so it was.)
    Admittedly it often gets more difficult than that and then it’s the same as explaining to them that bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we just can’t.

  3. Agree that there is no point trying to explain things like this young children. Which is lucky for me since I myself don’t understand why they are firing rockets at civilians.
    Luckily the siren on Saturday didn’t wake up my kids and where we live it was short anyway. I don’t have a clue what ill tell them.

  4. I live in a village near Ashdod and have two children: A girl (6.5 years old) and a boy (4).

    Since schools close once the situation gets dangerous, children are at home (and sometimes husbands, too, depending on their profession).

    – I try to keep some kind of daily routine – get up, have breakfast, play/do household chores with the kids, sing, tell stories (with and without books), do artwork or some other handicraft. (Today we decorated our front windows)

    – I let the children play in our backyard. they get fresh air and are inside well before the 45 seconds we have here between the siren and the actual rocket hit.

    – I tell them it’s ok to be scared, but teach them how not to panic. When panicked, you usually do the wrong thing. We do breathing techniques and we pray (this proved helpful even when the siren caught us on an open field on Saturday… )

    – I let them ask questions and answer them as honestly as possible. And I admit my own fear – I’m not superwoman, and it IS scary!

    Usually, once the situation gets better, the children “play air raid siren” and hide under the table and/or “shoot the rocket down” with their wooden guns (we have Irom Dome stations nearby). It helps them cope with the stress and vanishes after some days.

  5. I forgot to add something: We have a safe room (mamad) on the ground floot, with pictures on the walls and friendly colours – and books the children don’t know yet.
    And in situations like the present ones, the children sleep in the mamad. This considerably lessens the stress for me, since I don’t have to carry sleeping (and thus heavy) children into the safe room.