How to Talk to Kids About Conflict and War-Tips & Resources for Parents
Updated: Oct 20
In today’s digital age, children and teens frequently encounter graphic images, distressing information, and alarming headlines related to conflict and war. Navigating conversations about such sensitive topics is crucial for their well-being. Here are some strategies and tips from the Linden team and various reputable sources, including UNICEF, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the EU initiative Klicksafe, to assist you in guiding your children through these challenging discussions. These tips are created for parents, educators and adults in a child’s life, offering strategies on how to discuss conflict and war in a way that ensures the dialogue remains calm, age-appropriate, and compassionate. Resources:
How to Talk to Kids About War - 8 tips to support and comfort your children | UNICEF LINK
Talking to Your Kids About War | Verywell Family LINK
How to Talk to Kids in different ages groups About Violence, Crime, and War | Common Sense Media LINK
Helping Children Cope With Terrorism | National Association of School Psychologists LINK
Talking to children about death - a brief guide for parents | ADAPP LINK
How to help children and young people process Images of war | EU initiative Klicksafe LINK
Free Hebrew and Arabic Translations Of Trauma & PTSD | Psychology Tools LINK
Tips for parents:
Listen to Yourself: Take a few minutes to check in with your own reactions. Sorting out your emotions helps you remain steady when discussing difficult topics with your child.
Limit News Intake: While staying informed is important, continuous exposure to distressing images and information can be overwhelming. Set specific times during the day to access news and give your nervous system time to refuel.
Connect with Others: Seek support from family, friends, or professionals. Feeling supported enables you to be stronger and more present during conversations with your child.
Tips for speaking to children (all ages):
Choose the Right Moment: Find a quiet time to talk, away from screens and not near bedtime. Be truthful but aware of the impact of the information. Create a space where your child feels comfortable speaking freely.
Limit Exposure to News: Shield your child from graphic images and violent news. Find child-friendly news sources and engage in discussions together.
Connect with Caring Individuals: Communicate with teachers, relatives, or therapists to ensure your child has a network of support.
Maintain Routines: Provide comfort through predictable routines when the larger world feels unpredictable.
Spread kindness, not judgment: During conflicts, avoid using labels like “bad people” or “evil” when talking to your children. Instead, use it as a chance to promote compassion, especially for families forced to leave their homes.
Always Look for Helpers: Share stories of people helping each other during challenging times. Engage your child in positive actions, such as creating art or participating in local fundraisers.
Show Safety: Emphasize that, despite dangers in the world, your child is safe with you. Reassure them about the measures you take to keep them and yourself safe.
Tips for speaking to children (7-12 years):
Wait and See: Unless kids show signs of distress, allow them to bring up difficult topics. Approach them and invite conversation if needed.
Talk and Listen: Get a sense of what your kids know before explaining. Ask questions and encourage them to share their thoughts.
Discuss Sensationalism: Talk about how media uses extreme subjects for attention. Help kids think critically about news sources and media choices.
Tips for speaking to teens:
Assume Knowledge: Respect teens’ knowledge but fill in the blanks and share your perspective.
Get Them Talking: Encourage discussions by asking for their opinions. Resist lecturing and ask about their thoughts on various topics.
Expand Horizons: Teach media literacy to help teens critically evaluate information. Encourage questioning and a deeper understanding of topics.
Offer Hope: Discuss meaningful ways to contribute positively to the world. Instill the idea that they can make a positive impact.
NOTE: Please reach out to a mental health therapist if your child or teen is showing signs of distress, sleeplessness, changes in behavior, or prolonged anxiety for more than two weeks . Professional support can provide tailored strategies to help them cope with their emotions and navigate challenging situations. It’s crucial to prioritize your child’s mental well-being and ensure they have a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings. Speak to a Linden counselor if you need help. Last Updated: October 20, 2023