How to Talk to Kids About Ukraine

It could be, for instance, that your child is conjuring up images of past wars and is worried that their community is going to be invaded. Or maybe they’re worried that food prices are going to increase, and they’ll have nothing to eat.

“Listen up for questions or worries that may indicate any irrational fear about feeling unsafe,” Dr. King said.

Once you’ve identified what’s really worrying your child, address those specific concerns, Dr. Silverman said. But do not respond by telling them to calm down or that they’re overreacting. “This can feel dismissive to a child’s feelings because kids know that even if they are fine, they might feel sad about the circumstances of war, even in a far-off location, ”Dr. King said.

If your child is worried about families in Ukraine, think about things you could do to help, such as giving to charities that are providing aid. “You often hear the quote from Mr. Rogers, ‘Look for the helpers.’ I like to flip that to ‘How can you be the helper?’ ”Dr. Silverman said. When kids are given the opportunity to assist others, it gives them a sense of agency, she said, which can be comforting.

If you do not have all the answers to your kids’ questions, that’s also fine, Dr. Talib said. “It’s OK to say ‘I do not know’ and that you will seek out an answer and circle back,” she said. “It’s also OK to say, ‘This is a big and important topic, let’s talk about it tonight when I can give you my full attention.'” That said, it’s smart to try staying abreast of the news so you can answer their basic questions.

Remember, too, that the most important thing is for your child to feel secure. “Our primary role, whenever our child is feeling extremely anxious about something that’s happening in the world,” Dr. Silverman said, “is to help them feel safe and heard.”

Melinda Wenner Moyer is a science journalist and the author of “How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes.”

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