Children and young people are talking to their peers both in school and online about what’s happening in Ukraine which will be causing them concern, they may have questions or be seeking reassurance. They may have been exposed to media coverage, fake news, shocking pictures, and images from across all social media. Parents are grappling with how to best approach this sensitively and without causing undue distress.
There are several common approaches emerging from a range of agencies’ guidance and tools, from those who have responded to this crisis. NB: This is not an exhaustive list.
- Consider the age of your child and what it is appropriate to share.
- Consider your own feelings, stay calm when starting conversation. Children often mirror what you’re feeling.
- Create a safe space.
- Be proactive, make time to actively listen to enable CYP to share what they know and how they feel about what they are seeing and hearing, to help them navigate the issues and challenge misinformation.
- Validate their feelings, it’s not their problem to solve.
- Choose your words carefully so not to fuel fear.
- Tailor the conversation to the child, avoid too much depth, avoid over explaining the frightening aspects. We do not want to cause upset or trauma.
- Establish the facts and truth from reputable sources, without predictions, explore the ‘what, where, when, why and who’. Encourage critical thinking around a range of perspectives, facilitate discussion, and reinforce its okay to disagree, ensure a student is not left alone with a particular view.
- Limit exposure e.g. having the news on in the background, encourage them to take a break & do something different.
- Explore talking through disagreements, many can be resolved by listening, being heard, finding a common understanding or acknowledge its ok to disagree. Occasionally people may choose to do things that we find wrong and hurtful, we may struggle to understand our feelings and what is happening, access help from a teacher, parent or carer.
- It’s okay not to have all the answers, help your child do the same, as in many circumstances there is no right answer.
- Both sides of war are tragic, sadly it happens and everyone has to work together to enable a cease fire and an end to hostilities.
- Focus on how many individuals and countries around the world are working together to find solutions, they do not want the hostilities to go on and are making a stand against this and to be heard.
- Do something positive, explore practical ways to help be part of the solution which may counteract any guilt they may have for being at school, able to meet up & play with friends, and attend school.
Articles and references
Save the Children have a few simple steps how to talk to children about war and conflict.
Gov.UK was suggested by several colleagues echoed how to talk to children
Children’s Commissioner response
BBC News – Advice if you’re upset by the news -newsround is written for children.
CBeebies mentioned by a few people though I cannot find anything specific to Ukraine they cover wellbeing.
Scouts and ways to provide balance between focusing on Ukraine and wellbeing. They share a range of good activities which bring peace, calm and joy.