How to Talk to Kids about War and Global Conflict

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The world news has been closely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It feels like each time we start to catch our breath again, something else happens in the world that weighs heavily on us. 

It’s important to remind ourselves that although much of this is outside of our control, we can be active citizens and do our part. We can gain awareness, share accurate information, set news consumption limits, check-in with family and friends, and extend a helping hand however we can.

Many parents are wondering, “How do I talk to my kid about what is going on?” 

Here are some tips for communicating about war and conflict with your little one: 

  1. First, make sure the information you are accessing is reliable. World news can be hard to digest and informing your child about what’s going on can be difficult, but it is crucial. Children internalize news and respond to their parents’ and friends’ reactions to it. If they see you upset or frightened, they may feel scared. Create spaces for them to share their feelings. Lastly, it’s important to take charge of news fatigue by setting screen limits on how much news is being consumed in your household.
  1. Next, start a conversation with your child about “conflict” and “war”. Children need to understand that conflict and war stir up many unpleasant thoughts and emotions. It may be helpful for them to know that war is a form of conflict that is initiated by one group using extreme violence, destruction, and fear onto another group. Stick to the facts. It is helpful to normalize any feelings your child may be having by saying things like, “It saddens me that this is happening too. It’s okay to feel sad, to care about the wellbeing of others, and to want to do more to help.” 
  1. Help them channel their concern into conversation and activism! Well-known international aids include UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Rescue Committee. Work with your child and family to come up with ways to support important causes. Kindness can go a long way!

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