Easy methods to Speak to Children About Ukraine
Anxious kids may also have a change in appetite: not eating as much as usual or eating more comfort foods. They may be irritable, clingy or sick with stomachaches. If you see signs of anxiety in your child, “letting them know you are there to talk, often without even having a big talk, can go a long way,” Dr. Talib said.
Don’t bombard kids with news or scary images.
Although it’s understandable to want to keep abreast of the news, be aware that your child may be watching or listening, too. “Having news on, where there’s constantly images circulating that may be disturbing to them — that’s not going to be your best choice,” Dr. Silverman said.
You may not want to search for information online while with your child, either, Dr. King added. “You cannot control what images or videos might pop into view that cannot be unseen,” she said. “Either research yourself and share information with your child in a way they can understand without feeling overly fearful or share an article for them to read that you have vetted yourself.”
If you’re worried that your child is doomscrolling on a device, encourage them to make smart media choices, Dr. Talib suggested. “Ask them which news sources they are following and why, and what coverage has helped them understand more about the conflict versus made their heart race more,” she said.
When kids are getting their information from social media, Dr. Silverman suggested pointing them instead to reputable sources of news and information. Common Sense Media recommends a handful of news sites and apps specifically designed for kids, including News-O-Matic and Newsela, as well as sources appropriate for teens, such as NPR and HuffPost Teen.
Get to the root of their fear.
Parents might mistakenly assume that their kids are worried about the same things they are—but often they’re not, Dr. Silverman said. “They may have a different frame of reference, perspective or information,” she said.
For instance, if your child asks a question like “Is this World War III?” it’s best to respond with your own questions so you can understand what’s truly worrying them, she said. You could ask: “What do you mean by that?” Or “What specifically is scaring you?”