Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022
How to talk about war with children

With the current terrible situation of war that the world is experiencing, specifically between Russia and Ukraine, it is easy for children to hear many things through the news, and through people’s comments. The problem is when all this overwhelms them because they don’t understand it, or when they get scared.

For this reason, it is important that we can explain to children what they need to know about this topic so that excessive information does not harm them. How to do it?

Talking about a topic like war with children requires empathy, sensitivity and tact, and above all, not avoiding the subject; kids need answers! But not excessive information; they are different things.

On the other hand, we must adapt to their age , logically; each child is a world and will need a specific form of interaction. We give you some general ideas that can help you approach this topic with the little ones.

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Eight key ideas for talking about war with children

We give you eight key ideas to talk with tact and empathy with children about war.

explore what you know

First of all, it is important that you explore what your children know about the current topic of the war between Russia and Ukraine (and also, about wars in general, since I am sure that at school, or if they already go to high school, they have addressed this topic on occasion).

You can find out what he knows by asking him what he has heard and what he has seen. It is also important that you ask him what he wants to know and to what extent (not all children want to receive the same information).

And above all, find out if there is something about this topic that worries you; talk openly about it.

Adapt the language to their age

On the other hand, remember that it is important that you adapt your language to their age and level of understanding .

We do not need to give them excessively long and detailed explanations, just what they need to stay calm.

Remember that too much information can cause them more harm than good, because it can saturate them and they can feel very confused by not understanding.

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Give him peace of mind

It is important that children receive the information calmly, and even more this “delicate” information or that can generate doubts and confusion; therefore, give it calmly.

Speak slowly and calmly, and find a quiet and safe place for him to have this conversation.

Prevents you from seeing according to what images

While it is true that information can give peace and quiet, being exposed to images as violent as the ones we are seeing these days is not good for children. What’s more, it can disturb them a lot and it doesn’t help them to understand, only to get overwhelmed.

For this reason, and especially at very early ages, try to keep your children away from these violent and disturbing images and information.

If you need to resort to images or drawings to explain the subject of war, you can do so, but always choosing the image or drawing well , respecting its sensitivity.

Offers a simple explanation of the war

Although wars are complex issues and conditioned by a thousand factors, it is not necessary for children to know all the details of them, far from it.

An example of how we can explain wars in a simple way is: ” wars occur when two or more countries do not agree on some things, or when they do not understand each other; then there are conflicts”.

“But wars do end, because there are very good people who are trying to make them end and get countries to agree/be friends again.”

It is just an example of the words you can use, but you can adapt the message and speech to your child’s age and level of understanding. Also, what he needs to know and what he doesn’t (for this, ask him openly ).

Open a door to hope

In the same way that we explain what war is (in an understandable, entertaining and adapted language), we can also open a door to hope. Perhaps this is a good time to talk about it, as well as about solidarity.

If you are believers, resorting to prayer. And if not, writing messages of support for people who are having a hard time right now.

It is about connecting with that altruism and with the possibility of change, of the end of the war with the help of good people.

“If I help just one person to have hope, I will not have lived in vain.”

-Martin Luther King-

Children should feel cared for and protected

Beyond the information you provide your children about the war, it is important that they feel cared for and protected. For them to feel this way, it is essential to express to them that whenever they need it, we will be here for them , and that we can validate their emotions.

Explain to them that it is natural for them to feel fear, a universal emotion, but that they should not fear anything. That they are cared for by mom and dad (or the main caregivers).

You can also add that there are people who are taking care of things being resolved, something that happens far away, and that right now they are safe at home with the family.

Solve your doubts

Once you have given the explanation you consider to your children, it is important to reserve a final moment to resolve their doubts.

Children, when certain things are not clear, often resort to imagination. And from that imagination a thousand scenarios can arise in your head…

For this reason, it is important that you ask them if they have doubts and resolve them in the most pleasant and understandable way possible, so that they do not stay with them and imagine worse scenarios or that generate more confusion or overwhelm.

“Never forget: everything communicates and communication is like an echo: return what you do, take care of it!”