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What do we say to our children about the war?

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

The war between Ukraine and Russia can be impossible to avoid, after all, we are talking about nothing else. This also makes it quite possible for your child to get something out of it. But how can you best deal with that as a parent?

Hereby some tips for you on how to talk with kids about war.

Don't avoid, talk with your child about this

It is possible that your child has picked up on the war, has questions or may even be anxious or uncomfortable around the issue. And your child's age influences the way you'll talk about the war. Here they are by age for you in a row:

Up to 6 years

Children up to the age of six can best be kept out of the news for a while. The reason for this is that children of that age do not yet have the frame of reference or the life experience to contain something like that, so that also makes it difficult to explain. If they have questions, it is important to answer, but keep it short and yet clear and never make it too heavy.

6 to 12 years

Kids understand more and can refer better but still not as grown ups so do not make it too big! By that I mean, answer questions they have, explain it briefly. But children do not have to know exactly the reason of conflict, how much people lost etc. So keep it short and try to give children some clarity, because that gives reassurance in the fear they may feel. For example, ask what they know about it and if they still have questions. This way you can keep a close eye on them or they will not become too anxious. Some children are not talkers and then it can become something very big and scary in their head.

You can watch together Het Jeugdjournaal and discuss it as a result. Don't involve your feelings but ask about their emotion around what you saw. You might share that as a parent you also find it quite exciting. Then children also know that fear may be there, because fear is a normal emotion.

  • Choose a good moment

Find a good time to talk to your child about the war. when you are all calm, not in a rush and have the time to answer questions or speculate about some topics.

  • Comprehensible examples

Use examples that your (young) child understands. feeling of hunger when they are feeling that, feeling of fear when they feel that. this way they can amphasize and understand the emotions around the issue.

  • Importance of keeping society good

From time to time, we need to contribute to the community, and that starts with our acts in our own environment. If you want to be in a good class, everyone has to clean up their act. Very old-fashioned but everyone has to contribute their stone. You all have a responsibility to make sure it stays fun; at home, in your country and in the world.

  • Commitment

Teach your children that connectedness extends beyond your friends and family. Talk about soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. I really find it a mission to encourage children to feel connected to people all over the world with the same goal, freedom.

  • Read books/see movies

Read books or watch some movies together with your child. Choose a book or movie in which a child stand up for freedom. In this way, they can understand the situation. Talk about it with your child.

  • Talk to grandparents

Encourage your child to talk to grandparents about the war. Conversations between grandparents and grandchildren are very important, this has also been shown by research. In addition, children can become so well immersed in what has happened in the family in the past.

Do something concrete

What can be helpful for any age is to do something concrete. For example, by donating to a fundraising campaign for refugees from Ukraine. If you participate in it, children can also really do something, and sometimes it just feels good when you can help. what was done in my son's school was a to do list of "helping out at home assignments" which after finishing all, parents made a small donation. This way a child works hard to donate for people of the war and has contribute his part.

In any way, stay calm, authentic and clear, so that your child would feel your confidence and control.

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