Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is distressing and concerning, and we understand children and young people may have questions or be seeking reassurance. GroceryAid Helpline provider, Care first has shared information on how we can best approach these topics with younger family members.
Establish the facts – By pointing children towards trusted, reputable sources that explain what, where, when, why and who.
Be comfortable with not having an answer for everything, and help your children feel comfortable with that too – By being clear that in many circumstances there is not one ‘right’ answer and often two sides to every story.
Encourage children to debate ideas – By facilitating discussion and helping them understand that debate can happen without it becoming personal by, for example, encouraging them to say they disagree with someone’s idea, rather than with the person.
Be Honest – Children must know that they can trust their elders; young children will hang on to every word they say. It can be detrimental if you have told them one thing and they later find out that it’s not true. Teenagers are likely to have heard or read a lot of information, so discussing it is important. Spend time talking to them about the current conflict in Ukraine. With so much social media and online presence, it is also good to talk about different perspectives and narratives. Check for misinformation, use facts to your advantage.
Try to stay calm or at least seem to be, even if you don’t feel it – Children often look to their parents and teachers as role models, but it’s okay to say, “I’m a bit worried too” and that you don’t know everything. No one has all the answers, so you don’t need to pretend that you do. Be careful of how you are talking about the situation to other adults. Don’t say one thing to them and something very different in the next conversation; it can be more worrying for children.
Listen to your children – It is imperative to ask children about what they think about the situation and how it makes them feel. For younger children, who seem disconcerted, you should give them a chance to express how they feel. Set a few minutes aside around an hour before or after school finishes for a chat. Ask them how they are feeling, and if they are worried about anything. Relate those feeling to your own.
Don’t bring it up if children seem uninterested – Some children will be fascinated by what is happening in the world and want to know more, some will be worried, but others may show no interest at all and that’s fine. It depends entirely on the child. It’s about judging each child’s interest and responding to it in the right way.
Relating situations to things they know – You may want to reassure the child that they are safe by mentioning a holiday: pointing the destination out on the map and how long it took to get there. Then relate this to how far away the conflict is. Reassure them that you are going to keep them safe.
More information and resources
If you would like to view Care first’s Webinar on, ‘Helping children cope with world conflict’ it is being delivered live on Tuesday 15th March at 12:00 pm, please use the following link to register for this session: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/98042773815154957. Additionally, all sessions are recorded and can be accessed after this date and time.
If children or young people aged 11-25 years within your household are worried about the information they are seeing and reading, they can receive free, confidential online counselling and support through our partners at Kooth.
Adults who would like to access advice or support can call the GroceryAid free, confidential Helpline 24/7 and speak to a counsellor for tips, coping mechanisms and advice which can help deal with the current situation. Call our Helpline on 08088 021 122.
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