Talking to children and young people about the war in Ukraine isn’t something simple. It certainly isn’t something I was expecting to be writing about. Funnily enough, I have a War Studies degree and an MA in History, my dissertation on conflict resolution and military law…
So, my kids have seen Newsround at school and heard various things in the playground/bus/online etc about the situation in Ukraine. I’ve also had the PM statement on, so we watched that together.
It’s really important that we listen to questions and carefully respond. People are dying and they are scared. There are big words all around them and just saying ‘it will be fine’ or ‘don’t worry’ doesn’t answer or change their fears. At all. In fact, it makes you a person they won’t bother asking again.
While keeping our responses age appropriate, we do need to help kids understand as much as possible. If you don’t feel confident in your own knowledge, seek answers you can share, NewsRound isn’t actually a bad place to start, or other child led sources like the Literacy Trust, The Week Junior.
Try to remain honest, if vague, and never make promises you can’t keep. If anyone needs help, please pop over the questions your kids have asked and I will send a possible answer.
Some of the ones from my littles were:
‘Will our country be invaded?’
‘It’s highly unlikely sweetie. Putin is making a grab to see what he can get away with, the whole World is really cross with him and are going to work together to stop it.’
‘Are people dying?’
‘Yes, it’s very sad. Some people who were close to the fighting or bombs have died, and some soldiers too. That’s why everyone is working really hard to make it stop.’
‘Will Daddy have to fight?’
Kids often throw curveballs. Their dad was a soldier, he left Service before any of them were born, but for them things often merge together.
If your kids are oblivious, or not asking, that’s fine. There’s no need to push information where it isn’t needed/wanted. Follow their lead. Talking to children about war is not something we should be doing without context, and their permission.
If you need some support, then feel free to use one of our daily planners, or perhaps give journalling a try?
Be Honest. Be Open. Have Hugs.