As tensions in Ukraine continue to mount, seeing current events in the news can naturally cause children to become fearful and concerned. But how can you discuss such a conflict with a child with sensitivity and dignity?
Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to approach this conversation with children and young people.
Tailor the conversation to the child in question
It goes without saying that different ages of children will have a different level of understanding of life. In this sense, younger children might not understand the meaning of ‘war’ and what it entails, and so you should make sure that the explanation is appropriate for the child you are talking to.
On the other hand, pre-teens and teenagers might benefit from a more frank and informative conversation with you about the war in Ukraine, based on age-appropriate facts and articles. They are more likely to be anxious about the situation as they will understand what conflict entails.
Let them feel that they are helping
Some children will naturally want to help the people who are suffering in the conflict. Talk through the options with your child to see what they want to do. Maybe they will want to set up a fundraiser at school, or donate some of their toys to children that have fled the country.
The war in Ukraine is scary for everyone, regardless of age. However, if you come across as angry and scared, your child is likely to pick up on this.
Before sitting down to talk to them about the issue at hand, make sure that you are calm and collected, putting your own feelings aside for the sake of theirs at that moment. You will have plenty of time to deal with your own emotions once they are all tucked up in bed.
Validate and reassure
All feelings are valid, no matter your age, and so the same respect must be extended to our children. Make sure that they understand that how they are feeling is completely valid, allowing them to be as open and honest as possible about their emotions.
Reassure them that you are there for them, and will always be there to look after them no matter what. This will make sure that the child feels safe and secure.
Encourage your kids to be kids
Though it is only natural that children might be scared or anxious at current world events, especially those who are also old enough to comprehend the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic too, it is also important to encourage your kids to be kids!
After the past few years, these children have seen enough turmoil to last a lifetime. This means that they may feel guilty for having fun with their friends and family whilst others are suffering.
Encourage them to continue light-hearted activities, such as playing with their Audi kids cars, building blocks, stuffed animals, and so on. Uplift them by playing with their favourite toys and doing exciting things. Let them have fun – let the adults worry about what is happening in the world.
Overall, how you choose to approach such a difficult conversation depends on the child at hand, and your personal circumstances. However, with these tips, you will be able to begin to relieve their fears and worries in a healthy and productive way.