Talking to your child about sensitive and complex topics like the conflicts in the Middle East and the Ukraine can be challenging, but you can approach these discussions with care and empathy. Here are some tips to help you have a productive conversation:
Talking To Your Child So They Can Understand
- You do not need to go in-depth with young children but may wish to go into more detail with an older child.
- Share information that is honest and accurate, but be mindful of their age and emotional capacity. Use simple language for younger children and provide more details for older children.
Set the Stage for a Good Conversation
- Make sure you’re well-informed about the situation. This will help you provide accurate information and answer your child’s questions.
- Find a quiet and comfortable space to have this conversation. Ensure that you have enough time to talk without interruptions and you have time to process completely so your child doesn’t go to school or to bed in an upset state.
- Begin by asking your child what they’ve heard or know about the situation. This allows you to gauge their existing knowledge and concerns.
Talking To Your Child to Help Them Empathize and Understand
- Discuss the human aspect of the conflict. Explain how people on both sides are affected and how it’s important to empathize with those who are suffering.
- Encourage your child to think critically. Help them understand that conflicts are complex and involve multiple perspectives.
- Encourage your child to think critically about the information they come across and to verify facts from reliable sources.
- Educate your child on your values and ask your child to explore their own values.
- Emphasize – and model – the importance of peaceful dialogue, cooperation, and diplomacy in resolving conflicts. Teach them about the value of understanding and tolerance.
- Encourage your child to ask questions and be ready to answer them to the best of your ability. If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say you’ll find out together.
Help them Understand and Manage Their Feelings
- Children may have a range of emotional responses. Validate their fears, concerns, or sadness.
- Provide reassurance and comfort when needed.
- Help them manage their big feelings. This article explains how to help yourself stay calm and centered and to help your child do the same.
Help them Develop a Healthy Perspective
- Monitor their media exposure to ensure they are not over-exposed the troubling stories and getting information from inflammatory or biased sites.
- Share stories of individuals or groups working toward peace and resilience amidst the conflict. This can provide a more positive perspective.
- Remind your child that you love and support them, and that you are there to help them process their thoughts and emotions.
Remember that these conversations may need to be ongoing as your child grows and encounters more information. Be patient and open to addressing their questions and concerns as they arise. It’s also a good idea to consult with teachers, school counselors, or child psychologists for guidance if you feel unsure about how to approach this topic with your child. We have excellent therapists available to help you help your child. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help.