The situation in Ukraine is on a lot of people’s minds – adults and children alike. It can be tough to know how to talk to children about what’s going on, especially if they have a lot of big emotions. We’re here to support you with some child-appropriate ways to answer questions, address fears and concerns.
Reassure and be honest
It’s important to reassure children that they are safe and you are there for them. You also need to be honest with them, answering their questions as honestly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that and promise to find out. This helps build trust.
Keep up to date
Make sure you are up to date with the latest information so you can answer any questions children may have. This also helps model to children how to find reliable sources of information.
Encourage children to ask questions and share their thoughts and feelings. This will help them feel supported and understood. It also gives you a chance to understand what they’re thinking and feeling.
Don’t shy away from tough topics
Tough topics like war or violence can be difficult for kids to process. But it’s important that we don’t shy away from them. Talking about these things in an open, honest way can help children feel more in control and understand what’s happening.
Educate yourself to educate children
The more you know about what’s happening in Ukraine, the better equipped you’ll be to talk to children about it. There is a lot of information out there, but try to find sources that are reliable and age-appropriate.
Bridging connections with Ukraine’s children
Encourage children to identify with, connect to, and sympathise with what children in areas of conflict are going through. Here are some excellent books to read that will provide insight into what children in other regions of the world go through during times of war and upheaval:
“The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story,” by Thao Lam
“The Little War Cat” by Hiba Noor Khan
“Boy, Everywhere” by A. M. Dassu
“On the Move: Poems About Migration” by Michael Rosen
“Wisp: A Story of Hope” by Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker Smith
“I’ll Keep You Close,” by Jeska Verstegen
“Wishes” by Mượn Thị Văn
“Maurice and His Dictionary: A True Story,” by Cary Fagan
“Stealing Home,” by J. Torres, David Namisato
“Village of Scoundrels,” by Margi Preus
“Coming to England” by Floella Benjamin
“My name is not Refugee” by Kate Milner
“Do Something for Someone Else” by Loll Kirby
Let children get involved
Like adults, children are probably feeling quite overwhelmed and helpless when seeing the devastation going on in Ukraine.
Some great ways children could get involved are:
- writing letters to children in Ukraine
- donating old clothes and toys
- support organisations to help families
Here are some great places to donate directly to those children:
As with most situations like this, the best way forward is through talk. Ensuring children feel comfortable to discuss any anxieties they may have will prevent them from feeling overly concerned or anxious.