Much as we may want to shield our children from topics like war and terrorism, the fact is that children will end up hearing about it from social media, Television, School assemblies and peer talk.
So if your child ends up asking you a question about Ukraine or the war between Russia and Ukraine, the best strategy is to answer as honestly as possible.
Ignoring such questions or brushing them under the carpet does more harm.
Responding to their queries with reverts like, “You are just a child / you are too young to talk about war / We will talk about it when you are grown-up”, does more harm than good.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT WAR TO YOUR PRESCHOOLER?
- If your child asks you a question about war, to begin with, try to probe the child about what he/ she knows about it already.
- You may explain war as – a situation where two countries are fighting for their land.
- Instead of focusing on geopolitics, try to bring the focus on how children in Ukraine are suffering and we need to develop empathy.
- Do not terrorise your child about war. Instead, talk briefly about the situation on the ground. Talk about the consequences of war, instead. How some people will go hungry, thirsty, and without a school in case of a war. Avoid gory details about the war. Age-appropriate talk is crucial.
- You may use an actual map or a globe to explain the crisis to the child.
- Avoid watching disturbing visuals of war on television and WhatsApp, in front of your child.
- Assure them that they are safe though children in Ukraine are in pain.
- Talk about how people around the world are trying to help the Ukrainian children caught in the war. Some are sending food and medicines and some are teaching them Online.
- Your child may feel anxious and stressed. They may have heard about Indian students stranded in Ukraine. Talk about how the government is trying its best to bring them home safely.
- Make your child feel heard and understood. Validation is very important for Preschoolers.
- You may have an opinion on the war, but do not impose your views on the child. You don’t want your child to build stereotypes, do you?
- Should we encourage children to pray for those affected? Yes, we definitely should.
- War is the outcome of situations that we are not able to solve amicably. You may round up your talk with your child by probing them on situations where they sort out differences through dialogue. It could be at school or the playground. Who gets to take the swing first? Who gets to take a ride first?
- Use it as an opportunity to talk about kindness and co-operation building, within family and friends.
- Your child may sum up the talk with a tricky statement like – “So the adults failed to find a solution to the problem ?”
- In such a case, it is ok to admit that we all make mistakes, at times. Sad, but true.