Tik Tok. Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. The school bus. The lunch line. History class.
Somewhere, somehow your kids will hear about Ukraine and Russia. And let’s be honest, kids aren’t the best relayers of information. It can seem overwhelming to talk about such a big topic with children. It is easier to just ignore it. But our kids deserve accurate, age-appropriate information. Here are some steps to help it seem a little more achievable.
Step 1: Regulate yourself
The news can be overwhelming. Make sure you are calm and regulated before starting a conversation with your children. An escalated adult does no one any favors. Engage in self-care; turn off the news, take a deep breath, remind yourself of what you’re grateful for.
Step 2: Be planful
Think about what you will say before sitting down with your child. Information should be age and developmentally appropriate. If you have more than one child, you might need to have separate conversations. You wouldn’t tell a third grader the same information as a 9th grader. You know your child best, give them the information they need. “A country called Russia is harming another country named Ukraine and many people are sad and upset by it” might be enough for a younger child, while an older child maybe we ready to hear about more details.
Step 3: The conversation
Sit your child down. Don’t be fearful or sad, be factual. Perhaps start the conversation by asking if your child has heard anything about Ukraine or Russia. Another option is to start off by telling them why this conversation is happening; so that they know you are giving them this information so that they get accurate information, not to scare or worry them. Remind your child that they are safe. That America is not at war. Tell that them their friends may be talking about what is going on, but what they are saying may not always be factual. Talk about the helpers and the heroes if you are so inclined.
Step 4: Q & A
Let your child ask questions. Be honest, try not to be overly emotional.
Step 5: The wrap up
Summarize the conversation in age-appropriate terms. Talk about ways to make a difference, if your child wishes to do so. Remind your child that they are safe and that they can always ask more questions. Ask your child how much information they would like to be given as the situation continues to unfold.
Step 6: Breathe
You did it. You had the difficult conversation, and you probably will continue to have to do so. But for now, you did it. Breathe. Leave the news off for a little. Snuggle your kids. Eat the ice cream. Fold the laundry. Breathe.