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How to talk to your children about conflict and war

March 11, 2022

Right now, I’m sure your children have many questions about what’s happening in Ukraine. They are also most likely upset and confused by what they are hearing. It can be tricky to explain war to a child while providing reassurance.

In this blog you will find tips to support and comfort your child during these uncertain times. 

 

Child hands holding heart in front of drawing of Ukraine flag

 

8 small steps to support your child when talking about war

Find ideas on how to explain war to a child…

 

Find a good time to talk about the news

At dinner, in the car or during a walk can be a good time to talk when other distractions are minimised. Try to avoid conversations at bedtime (even though we know this is all children’s favourite time to talk as a tactic to avoid sleep!)

 

Ask your child what they know and how they are feeling

This will help you to understand what information they have picked up from friends, school or online.

 

Do they have any questions they would like to ask you?

You can explain that you might not know all the answers but you’ll do your best to answer honestly. Some children might seem unconcerned or not want to talk about it and that’s okay. It’s best to only give information that they are seeking rather than overwhelm them.

 

Reassure them

Talk about what people are doing all over the world to try and stop the conflict. Show them a map so they can see where Russia and Ukraine are.

 

Talk about ways you might help

There are so many wonderful acts of human kindness going on to tell your children about. How would they like to help? You might collect some items to donate, give some money to the Red Cross or the DEC, talk about what you would do if a refugee needed a home. Seek out some positive news stories to share with them.

 

Encourage your child to express their feelings creatively

Perhaps they would like to draw a poster in support of Ukraine, paint a picture of a sunflower or the Ukrainian flag on a stone, write a poem or a story. These are all wonderful ways to help your child do something positive.  

 

Make home feel safe

As much as possible keep life ‘normal’ for your child. Routine and home comforts really help children’s stress levels. Focusing on the present moment is healthiest for all of our wellbeing. Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news and be aware of discussing it within earshot of your children.

 

Look after you

Your child will always look first to you as to how they should respond to something. Try to absorb any news first without them present so that you can process your immediate reactions and give yourself time to translate any important information in a calm way. You’ve got this.

 

Additional useful resources

For more hints and tips check out some of these trusted guides and news sources

Unicef

Barnardos

BBC

The Week Junior

 

Explore Learning have developed a series of guides to support family wellbeing and life as a parent or carer.

We are here to support you on this journey to raise confident, happy children. 

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