Honesty, reassurance: How to talk to kids about Ukraine


A girl holds a toddler’s hand after crossing the border from Ukraine on the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Friday. Hundreds of Ukrainians are fleeing from warfare by crossing their borders to the west in the hunt 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 folks to type by way of with their children. Add Russia’s escalating invasion of Ukraine to the listing.

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

“For kids beneath 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.

“Total, 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 below are some locations we are able to 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 preventing raised concern, sending shares tumbling and oil costs surging. President Joe Biden slapped Russia with a number 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 children with their English by way of 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 feel it is scary,” she mentioned. “You understand, proper now I am sitting right here in my good home and there is folks 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 unhealthy, like, what can I do?”

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

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 together 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 navy bases and sending troops and tanks from a number of instructions in a transfer that might rewrite the world’s geopolitical panorama. (Picture: Emilio Morenatti, Related Press)

“She requested why they’re having a warfare? And if the children are in class,” 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 instructed me that she’s glad America is just not at warfare. She would not need to go on a bus with out us.”

Dr. Gene Beresin, govt 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 widespread in relation to warfare, whether or not they verbalize them or not: Am I secure? Are you, the folks caring for me, secure? How will this have an effect on my day-to-day life?

Although the invasion, for U.S. children, is taking part in out a number of thousand miles from residence, 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, bought post-traumatic stress dysfunction. The media is large,” Beresin mentioned.

That is why some consultants warn towards leaving TV protection on consistently because the invasion performs out. For very younger youngsters, unplugging from screens altogether for some time might assist. Preschool children may have extra TLC time with a mum or dad or caregiver whereas they work by way of their feelings, Beresin mentioned.

“They know issues are troubled. They know issues are problematic. They might ask you in case you’re apprehensive. Youngsters of all ages might ask in case you’re apprehensive. And admittedly, you bought to be sincere. You’ll be able to say, ‘Sure, I’m, however we are able to handle this. We will get by way of this.’ I’d indulge them just a little 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 admire our calm and factual method as a result of their youngsters are frightened they usually 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 data and concentrate on the helpers wherever we are able to. Proper now, for instance, there are literally thousands of folks all over the world and plenty of governments working collectively to cease the battle and finish the preventing. There are folks on the bottom who’re serving to people who find themselves injured. There will likely be humanitarian assist for individuals who want it.”

The difficulty she shipped Tuesday, earlier than the newest outbreak of preventing, centered 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 concern 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 admire our calm and factual method as a result of their youngsters are frightened they usually weren’t positive what to say,” Barbalich mentioned.

For teenagers, mentioned Dr. Nick Hatzis of the outpatient psychological well being care facility Compass Well being Middle in Chicago, a very powerful step for folks is to “create an area that permits for listening.” Dialog on Ukraine could also be precisely what some children need and precisely what others may not, he mentioned.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of forwards and backwards,” mentioned Hatzis, medical director for youngster and adolescent applications. “We need 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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