Explaining Extremism To A 10 Year Old

Firstly how the hell am I old enough to have a human who’s about to turn 11?

Secondly, tonight is the second in a row that the Beanpole has returned from school tearful because of a semi-explained refugee crisis. Her heart breaks each time they discuss a story about the refugees in Europe and she couldn’t understand why their home was no longer safe. What made it unsafe? Is our country safe? What came to get them? The imagination of a 10 year old is a scary place (says she who was allowed to “watch” Alien at age 10 but had to cover her eyes for the scary bits. My imagination + the sound effects were WAY worse than Gieger). The imagination of a 10 year old with ASD and limited facts is much scarier.

So, we had a choice.

A: gloss over it and pretend life is fine, but it’s all very sad and to leave the adults to deal with it.

B: Get out some facts that probably aren’t that age appropriate, but are going to arm her with information.

It was always going to be B.

Stage 1. Explain about the changes in power in the Middle East in recent years. Accepted & digested.

Stage 2. Explain who ISIS are and why people are running away from them. Brick wall.

Ah crap. Ok, backtrack. Do you know what an extremist is? No. Ok, we have a starting point.

Most Christians use the bible as a guide, but still accept science & agree that everyone is entitled to their own faith, yes? Good.

Ok, but some people choose to believe that the bible is absolute fact and ignore everything else. In fact, they only believe in certain bits of the Bible and think everyone else is wrong. Is that a bad thing? Err…. it’s not if that’s their opinion, it’s only wrong if they want to force you to believe the same as them.

(We’re getting a light bulb here).

Well,  this group that some people call ISIS are a bit like that. Most (As in several million) Muslims have a Koran instead of a Bible and use it as a guide. They look after each other and accept that other people have different faiths.
Some (as in several thousand)Muslims have taken bits from the Koran and used them to believe that they have the right to kill people who don’t agree with them.

We’re getting extremism. This is an utter parent win.

So we went for the feel better ending by showing her how some people use humour to show how ridiculous the extremist Christians behaviour was in a tolerant society.


We figured here that she’s already heard all the bad words and the lesson of ‘know the word, but don’t use it’ is quite a powerful one. And actually, I’d rather she found a swear word used to dissolve intolerance funny, than shield her from bad language but allow her to be aware of mass murder. It somehow seems insignificant considering the topic of conversation.


We genuinely couldn’t have planned it better. It was like an episode of Sesame Street, ending on a moral message of most people are tolerant. These extremists are just that. In a very unwelcome minority.


3 thoughts on “Explaining Extremism To A 10 Year Old

  1. This is both funny and accurate, some people always feel the need to go overboard! If you feel that gay marriage is wrong fine but to call people out of their names is totally uncalled for! Though you would think people would by now learn that some things do not need to be said and we could either accept some things for what they are such as gender, race, and culture respectfully and/or keep our mouths shut. However, that crazy traveling group always gets me anyway they are against everything and they rile me all the time.


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