How Do I Talk To My Child About War?
Recent events in Ukraine have proven shocking for everyone, no matter how in tune with world events they may be. In an ideal world perhaps, we could hope to shelter our children from any bad news altogether, but this just isn’t how the world works. Either by osmosis when listening to the television or the radio, or through chit chat in the school playground, it’s only a matter of time before children start to hear the things, you’d really rather they didn’t.
And so, you have a choice to make as a parent…
Do you let them hear things through the grapevine?
Or do you address the elephant in the room yourself, and tell them as much as you can, or at least as much as you think they need to know?
Children are pretty resilient, and they might surprise you with how they respond. It’ll help you keep an eye on how they’re handling things too, as the stories develop and the crisis unfolds.
Take their cue…
If they’re asking questions, it might not be because they’re scared, they may just be curious about the situation. Do your best to answer questions sensitively and honestly, but be truthful if you don’t know the answer to something as well.
Look for signs of anxiety…
If they’re getting anxious or upset, it could be time for a conversation to help you both understand the big feelings that come with big news like this.
Don’t overload them with information and images…
Whilst honesty is the best policy, this doesn’t mean you should have a live news feed on the go, with constant images of tanks and guns. Distraction doesn’t mean ignorance.
Try to understand their fear…
If they are scared (and many adults are scared too) try to unpick what it is that they are scared about, and then remind them about all the people who are working hard to protect us.
Reassure them but take them seriously…
They’re kids, and they need their parents to tell them everything is going to be OK, even if that might not be the case forever. Try to listen with an understanding ear and offer as many hugs as you can manage.
This isn’t an ideal situation for anyone, and everyone’s mental health will be on the wane over the coming weeks and months, as we all try to process what is actually going on.
The bottom line is simple – be there for your kids through all this.
Warchild – charity to help vulnerable children facing war.
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