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Should you talk to kids about Ukraine? Here's some ideas


It's been a while, but with world events being what they are, I wanted to check in. After the rollercoaster of the last two years, I felt we were so close to getting the proverbial rug back under our feet. Living in a series of unprecedented times is emotionally exhausting - especially when you add children to the mix. Last week I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room with Mr 5 when the news broke on the receptionist's TV - the questions started immediately. Before I'd even had the chance to digest the news, I found myself detangling events to make them digestible to baby ears. 𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐭𝐨𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐲, 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐨𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐬𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐭? No? Exactly. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way and some people never stop being bullies. That was Conversation #1. Keep it short and sweet. I'm a big believer in bite-sized chats when it comes to tackling huge conversations with children. They don't get overwhelmed and, importantly, neither do I. We cannot control the chaos happening in the world but we can control our children's access. For our family that means that I don't let the news free flow in the background anymore. Experts have recommended not talking to children younger than 8 about it at all. However, they'll be talking and hearing about it in school, so what to do? Asking what they already know can be a great intro to the topic, if we don't invite big and scary topics into our home then that can give kids the impression that it's something they can't ask questions or talk about - which makes it more frightening. Asking open-ended questions can give children the opportunity to explain how they're feeling whilst offering black and white statements such as "I will always look after you", "the war is far away" can help them feel safe. I'm no political reporter and I'm not across the deep-seated political drama between Russia and Ukraine. And I'm comfortable telling my children that I don't know - but that all questions are welcome. Of course, my son wanted to know if it was going to affect us here in Australia. And I said no. My personal fears aside it's my job to ensure he feels safe. If you're talking about the war with your children and looking for some expert help to guide these discussions, here are some that I've already added to cart: For younger children: 1. The Peace Book, Todd Parr. Listen to it here. 2. What Does Peace Feel Like, Vladimir Radunsky. Listen to it here. 3. My Name Is Not Refugee, Kate Milner. Listen to it here. For Ages 7+ 4. The Day the War Came, Nicola Davies. Listen to it here. 5. The Enemy, Davide Cali. Listen to it here. If you keep calm and carry on, it's likely that your children will too. Taking actions such as creating peace posters, writing letters to decision-makers or running a fundraiser are practical ways that they can feel they're helping. I hope that all is well in your world today and my thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine and those directly affected, Charlie xx P.S. If you'd like to help Voices of Children is a local charity helping children affected by war in Eastern Ukraine. Care Australia is also supporting local partners in Ukraine to distribute food, water and other essential supplies for displaced families. P.P.S. If you've found this post helpful perhaps forward it to a friend who may benefit also. x

In case you've forgotten, to be fair it's been a while between posts - I'm Charlie - an accidental author, mum of three, blogger and champion of parents & all things mental health. My next books on worry and bad dreams are looking so friggin' beautiful I can't even tell you. Thanks for sticking around xx

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