Talking to children about the war in Ukraine

In the life of a child, there are sometimes moments of stress that can raise questions for the child and its environment. As a childcare centre, we are part of this environment. At the moment (2022) there is unfortunately a war in Ukraine. What does this mean for the children and how do you deal with this as an environment?

Our teachers always monitor the wellbeing of the children. We offer space to talk and share emotions when children feel the need to do so. For the youngest children, we see this mainly in the (extra) need for security and positive communication. From the age of 6, we start talking about the war. The below text, drawn up by our pedagogical team, can help to talk about war or other stressful situations with children at home. The age and own perception of the child are leading.


Talking to children about the war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is causing fears and worries. Children feel this. In our international childcare we take care of children from many different countries. The war in Ukraine may therefore be quite close for some children. It affects us all. Depending on the age , it is wise to talk about the situation in Ukraine.

Especially if a child asks questions and/or is concerned.

Children up to six or seven years old are in the fantasy phase. They often take things for granted and cannot yet comprehend a war. We therefore protect children under the age of six from this subject.

But we do talk about it with children from the age of six.

How do we do this?

We keep it simple,  not going into too much details as this can make children unnecessarily anxious. Children are often not yet able to understand economic or strategic considerations. We’ll leave those out. When a child asks a question, try to figure out what the real question is behind it. What is the child’s need? Does it want to be reassured or understand the situation better?

It’s important to validate children’s feelings, so they don’t feel judged or have their concerns dismissed. Having a chance their feelings to be validated gives a chance to create a sense of relief and safety. Keep in mind how important is to stay calm when you approach the conversation , children often copy the sentiments of their caregivers, if you are uneasy about the situation, chances are the child be uneasy as well.

Emphasize the safety of the child in our country. “It happens far away”. The atlas can be useful  for older children.

Also indicate bright spots. For example, that the leaders of other countries all over the world are working hard  to solve this and  stop the war. An action (for example making drawings calling for peace) to help the people in Ukraine can also help to reduce the fears and worries.

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