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How to talk to your kids & teens about war

If your children are in school they will hear about things. It is your choice as their parent wether you want to have some control over the narrative or not. The war in the Ukraine is currently on everyones’ mind and lips – including the first graders I overheard this morning.

I have collected a number of resources I believe to be useful. Please click through and decide for yourself how and when you will speak to your children. If you have other links, images or resources you have been using I would be more than happy to review them and add them to this list. Thank you.

What we are doing

This is how we have thus far approached the subject with our children, ages 8, 12, and 14.

  • Asked what they have heard in school and listened carefully to their answers.
  • Explained what we know in an age-appropriate manner, answering their questions as best we could. 
  • Looked at a map together to show them where the fighting is happening and put it in context with where we are.
  • Watched a children’s special edition news report on the conflict.
  • Collected and dropped off donations together.
  • Talked to them about a financial donation we have made and how it will be used.
  • Watch, observe and listen to them and follow up as necessary – daily.
  • Double down on kindness and consideration. Stress is expressed in many ways and we need to give our children and ourselves grace right now.
  • Continually check in with ourselves, to reduce some of the overwhelm, including not reading news just before bedtime and finding ways to switch off (e.g. running).

What the experts recommend (links & resources)

Below are some resources I have found and find useful. They include general advice, as well as specific tips for speaking to children & teens. For global families I would just add the importance of stressing that classmates or friends have nothing to do with the conflict and to encourage our children to speak out against xenophobia if they encounter it.

Resources in English:

  • UNICEF. General advice for talking to children about war and conflict. (read here)
  • Aha! Parenting: How to talk with your Child about the War in Ukraine. With suggestions for each age range. (read here)
  • Verywell Family: How to talk to your kids about the War in Ukraine. With expert tips. (read here)
  • BBC News: How to help yourself, your kids and others (read here)

Resources in German:

  • KIKA: Mit Kindern über Krieg sprechen. Resourcensammlung aus vielen Quellen. (Link)
  • LOGO: Tägliche Nachrichten, kindgerecht aber ungeschönt (Link).
  • Hanisauland: Politik für Kinder. Kurze Zusammenfassung der Geschichte der Ukraine (Link)
  • Karl Kübel Stiftung: Broschüren & Materialien für Eltern, Erzieher/innen und Lehrer/innen (Link)

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