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Now, I want you to understand that my daughter is not a member of a radical fundamentalist group. She doesn't own a kalashnikov, nor does she have an extensive knowledge of detonators.

My daughter is seven years old.

What my daughter does have, often, is a sense of helplessness. She is smaller than her parents and teachers. She is less experienced (and presumably less wise, although this is an open question). She has less knowledge. She is adorable, but in a contest between her and my wife, if I am the judge, she isn't even in the running. Thus, in a battle of wills, she finds herself confronted by a juggernaut. This isn't athletics, where any team could win on any given day. She is completely at the mercy of people around her.

Which is exactly the position of terrorists.

When my daughter was four, she wanted to go to her friend's house, across the hall from our apartment. She had often gone unescorted before, and under other circumstances I might have said yes. However, her friend was gone, and she only wanted to go over so she could watch TV unsupervised. I said no. In a fit of very controlled rage, she ran out of the house and locked herself in my car. She then very deliberately urinated on the driver's seat.

On another occasion, she was confined to her room for the lengthy sentence of (gasp) three minutes. She removed all the drawers from her dresser and dumped them on the floor. She took her mattress off her bed, turned her bed over, and knocked the dresser down onto her bed. She took all of the boxes(mine, not hers) from the closet and dumped them out. The room could not have been worse if she had detonated a bomb. Getting the door open took much longer than her original sentence of three minutes. When I finally got the door open she said that the mess was my fault for giving her a time out.

Which, again, is exactly the position of terrorists.

They start from the assumption that they do not have equal power with those around them. While this is generally the case, it usually stems from being on the fringe of sanity, and from espousing views not held by the populace around them. However, not everyone in this position resorts to terrorism. Think of Gandhi, or Dr. King, or, well, the Mormons or J-dubs. Or the UUs. Or Martin Luther. Or Simon Peter. The list goes on. Terrorists assume that, while they don't have power commensurate with their enemies', they by rights should. They are unwilling to accept that they can't always have things their way.

Another difference between respected reformers and terrorists is the blame game. The terrorists of 9/11, the terrorists who blew up the trains in Spain, the suicide bombers in Israel, all blame the victims, or rather the targets, of the terrorism. The victims are those who die or are injured, or who are frightened into changing their lifestyle. The targets are the governments whose behavior the terrorists want to change. Rosa Parks never said that the police should go to jail because she rode on the front seat of the bus.

So we know that terrorists behave like unruly children, only to a greater degree, and that they are motivated by the same feelings. What does this tell us we should do? First, every book on parenting I have ever seen warns parents never to give in to fits. The fastest way to get a spoiled child is to give them what they want as soon as they get difficult about it. We figure out what will get us what we want, and we act accordingly.

If we have already established this pattern of giving in to fits, the only way to break it is to stop giving in, being aware that our child will increace the length or severity of her fit at first, not beleiving that we will stay the course. It takes several fits with the child not getting what she wants for it to stop. Likewise, terrorists will continue to do what has worked in the past to get what they want, even after it no longer works.

Sometimes the child will do something not only unpleasant, but actually destructive. I have thrown away countless books because one or another of my children has torn pages out. But we can't just let them destroy that Ming vase over there. To prevent this, you remove the child's access to the vase. Similarly, we must try to take away the terrorist's opportunities to destroy unreplaceable objects. This is difficult, especially if we are not to punish innocent people, like ourselves, but we do what we can and accept whatever losses happen, because we must.

Next, we try, as much as possible, to replace positive consequences with negative ones. For those of you who like plain language, this means punishment. For a child, this may mean confinement, or corporal punishment, or taking away privileges. For terrorists, this means killing them (remember, a terrorist organization is as much like a spoiled brat as an individual terrorist), or freezing their assets, or imprisonment. Note that revenge is not punishment. Revenge will increase hostility and will not decrease the incidence of fits or of terrorism.

Finally, we must give hope. Yep, you heard right. With a child, the best way is usually to take her on your lap, if young enough, and tell her that you love her. With terrorists, this could mean negotiating with them, or it could mean amnesty, or it could mean aid. Remember, though, that this comes after the consequence. This will help by removing the feeling of helplessness that brought about the terrorism in the first place.

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