Here are some suggestions for your consideration when talking to your children.
Children do hear things on the news, on the playground and they may not fully understand what has happened. Find out what they know and then you are able to explain gently and in an age appropriate way so they can have some understanding of the situation. Encourage questions and answer as honestly as you can without causing distress. For example, you might look at a map of the world together and share where the conflict is occurring. You can share some basic information about what is happening and why, and where and how they can gather reliable information.
Feelings are important. There may be a whole range of feelings around a frightening event from sadness to anxiety to anger. Encourage your child to express how they feel about events and don’t be scared of expressing your feelings too. Don’t hold back the tears if you feel sad. Children need to see it is ok to let your feelings out. Acknowledge feelings or concerns that arise and reassure your child that they are in a safe place.
There is absolutely no need for children to see scary and frightening images on TV. This is something that does need shielding from your children. They will not understand and it could cause a lot of fear and anxiety. Shielding images and news on TV is not shielding them from what has happened. You can explain that to them in a truthful and age appropriate way.
Children are often scared that this might happen to them. Look at risks in life and how likely or unlikely things may happen. We just hear about them more on the news so it seems like a real threat and that it might happen anytime.
Try to keep to your child’s normal routines and don’t change them. Children feel safer when things carry on as normal.
Be aware of the potential impact of “media overload” from traditional media and the internet. Talk to your child about the importance of limiting their exposure to this coverage, especially for older children who may have their own devices and unsupervised internet access.
‘Today I heard this’ is a simple worksheet for children to write down things they hear that they don’t understand.
Children hear things on the news, in newspapers, parents or other adults talking, social media or their friends and classmates. What they hear might not be true and they get themselves worried and upset for no good reason. Leave a stack of these out in the classroom so any misconceptions can be addressed quickly. Encourage children to ask a trusted adult about what they have heard.
Download the ‘Today I heard this’ resource by clicking the link below.
The Worry Tree is a method described by Butler and Hope 2007 to enable someone to either act on or let go of a worry.
Download 'The Worry Tree' Resource by clicking the link below.