Honesty, reassurance: How to talk to kids about Ukraine


A girl holds a baby’s hand after crossing the border from Ukraine on the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Friday. 1000’s of Ukrainians are fleeing from battle by crossing their borders to the west searching for security. (Andreea Alexandru, Related Press)

Estimated learn time: 5-6 minutes

NEW YORK — The pandemic, mass shootings, pure disasters, terror assaults. There’s been loads of tragedy and anxiousness for fogeys to kind via with their youngsters. Add Russia’s escalating invasion of Ukraine to the record.

With occasions quickly unfolding on TV and throughout social media, little one growth consultants urge dad and mom to examine in with youngsters of all ages however to not fear if these conversations are transient.

“For youngsters underneath the age of seven, it’d simply be acknowledging that one thing is occurring between Ukraine and Russia and ask, ‘Have you ever heard something?’ Take the kid’s lead,” mentioned Janine Domingues, a scientific psychologist on the nonprofit Baby Thoughts Institute in New York.

For all ages, honesty is paramount, she and others mentioned.

“General, simply present reassurance, that that is what we all know proper now. Allow them to know you do not know all of the solutions however listed here are some locations we will go,” Domingues mentioned.

Across the globe, from the U.S. to Western Europe, Japan to South Korea and Australia, nations instantly denounced the Kremlin as Thursday’s combating raised worry, sending shares tumbling and oil costs surging. President Joe Biden slapped Russia with a few of the broadest and hardest monetary penalties the world’s largest economic system can muster.

Karina Serio, 16, in Cecil County, Maryland, hopes to main in Russian and European research when she goes to school. For now, as a highschool sophomore, she helps Ukrainian youngsters with their English via a web based volunteer group and moderates a bunch chat of as much as 600 Ukrainian youth at a time on the Telegram app.

“I believe it is scary,” she mentioned. “You understand, proper now I am sitting right here in my good home and there is individuals my age sitting of their flats listening to sirens go off. They cannot sleep. They do not know what to do. And I really feel dangerous, like, what can I do?”

Janice Torres in Brooklyn is amongst dad and mom already fielding questions from their youngsters.

Svyatoslav, 6, plays with his tablet in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending troops and tanks from multiple directions in a move that could rewrite the world's geopolitical landscape.
Svyatoslav, 6, performs along with his pill in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, unleashing airstrikes on cities and army bases and sending troops and tanks from a number of instructions in a transfer that would rewrite the world’s geopolitical panorama. (Photograph: Emilio Morenatti, Related Press)

“She requested why they’re having a battle? And if the youngsters are at school,” Torres mentioned of her 8-year-old daughter. “She noticed me crying as I watched a video of a dad letting his child go on a bus. She advised me that she’s glad America shouldn’t be at battle. She does not wish to go on a bus with out us.”

Dr. Gene Beresin, government director of the free on-line useful resource hub the Clay Middle for Younger Wholesome Minds at Massachusetts Common Hospital in Boston, mentioned younger youngsters, tweens and even older teenagers have some fundamental questions in frequent with regards to battle, whether or not they verbalize them or not: Am I protected? Are you, the individuals caring for me, protected? How will this have an effect on my day-to-day life?

Although the invasion, for U.S. youngsters, is enjoying out a number of thousand miles from dwelling, social media and tv protection could make it appear simply subsequent door.

“Many, many, many youngsters who witnessed 9/11 on TV, who witnessed the Oklahoma bombing on TV, who witnessed the Challenger catastrophe on TV, acquired post-traumatic stress dysfunction. The media is big,” Beresin mentioned.

That is why some consultants warn towards leaving TV protection on always because the invasion performs out. For very younger youngsters, unplugging from screens altogether for some time may assist. Preschool youngsters may have extra TLC time with a father or mother or caregiver whereas they work via their feelings, Beresin mentioned.

“They know issues are troubled. They know issues are problematic. They could ask you in the event you’re apprehensive. Children of all ages could ask in the event you’re apprehensive. And admittedly, you bought to be sincere. You may say, ‘Sure, I’m, however we will handle this. We are able to get via this.’ I’d indulge them somewhat bit,” he mentioned.


We have heard from an amazing variety of dad and mom already who’ve thanked us for protecting the story so forthrightly, and they’re telling us that they recognize our calm and factual strategy as a result of their youngsters are frightened and so they weren’t positive what to say.

–Andrea Barbalich, Editor in Chief of The Week Junior


Andrea Barbalich is editor-in-chief of the Week Junior, a weekly newsmagazine for teenagers ages 8-14 with 100,000 subscribers in all 50 states. She and her workers have been protecting Ukraine.

“We’re very calm in our tone and we’re selective within the information that we current,” she mentioned. “We keep away from very scary and upsetting info and deal with the helpers wherever we will. Proper now, for instance, there are millions of individuals around the globe and plenty of governments working collectively to cease the battle and finish the combating. There are individuals on the bottom who’re serving to people who find themselves injured. There will probably be humanitarian assist for individuals who want it.”

The problem she shipped Tuesday, earlier than the newest outbreak of combating, targeted on troops amassing on the borders, outlined the shared historical past between Russia and Ukraine and defined the place of the U.S. Subsequent week’s challenge will tackle the invasion.

“We have heard from an amazing variety of dad and mom already who’ve thanked us for protecting the story so forthrightly, and they’re telling us that they recognize our calm and factual strategy as a result of their youngsters are frightened and so they weren’t positive what to say,” Barbalich mentioned.

For youths, mentioned Dr. Nick Hatzis of the outpatient psychological well being care facility Compass Well being Middle in Chicago, an important step for fogeys is to “create an area that enables for listening.” Dialog on Ukraine could also be precisely what some youngsters need and precisely what others may not, he mentioned.

“There’s going to be numerous backwards and forwards,” mentioned Hatzis, medical director for little one and adolescent packages. “We wish to be sure that we’re actively selling our routines, our schedules, taking part within the significant actions in our lives and in our youngsters’ lives.”

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