The Russian invasion of Ukraine is big news in Ireland and it means you can understand that your school-going child may already be aware of the situation.
If your child is still in kindergarten or younger, it is possible to protect them completely from what is happening in Eastern Europe. Trying to keep them covered is a good plan. If they still hear and ask questions, try to be honest, but also show confidence in your tone, that this will be sorted.
You may feel like imposing your own media to protect your kids from the grim and often scary news, but it’s unlikely you can completely stop them from hearing about the situation. Instead of strictly shielding older children from the news, the aim is to try to help them make sense of whatever they are already aware of.
With older children and teens, it’s worth trying to establish what they know. Do they have accurate data, or are they gathering other people’s fears? Knowing their level of understanding will also help you determine what you may have to discuss with them. As you test things out, aim to listen more than talk. If they show what they know, then check how they feel about what they know.
Chances are, if they knew about the invasion and the various sanctions that Europe and the US are imposing on Russia, they might be confused or uncertain about what this means for them, their family and friends. Primary school age children tend to focus on tangible concrete things related to them and their personal circumstances. Older children and adolescents may be more attuned to the conceptual, philosophical aspects of the invasion and the impact it may have now and in the future.
So younger kids can simply be heard, acknowledged and reassured that, for now, things are still a long way off for Ireland and are unlikely to have an immediate effect on us. although, as I write, there is still the more macabre prospect of nuclear deterrence being prepared by Russia).
Given the degree of uncertainty in everything, it is likely that one of their most prominent feelings will be anxiety as we know that uncertainty often causes anxiety. The flip side, when things are settled and in the right order, allows the kids (and possibly parents) to relax. Children also tend to be more anxious when they have no control over the events that are facing them. Of course, none of us have control over major socio-political decisions as states try to negotiate, coerce, or even frighten each other into retreating or moving toward conflict.
So with younger kids, it can really help you to try to identify the areas of your family life that you have control over, so you can make things more regular and more predictable for yourself and your children, as a counterbalance to social and political upheaval in Europe.
Even when trying to talk to your child, you may find that you must first manage your own anxiety about what is happening, so that you don’t create any anxiety they may be experiencing. carry within. If you find it difficult to talk about what is happening in Ukraine without overwhelming yourself, it may be more helpful to have someone else discover what your child knows.
It’s important that someone talks to them. Don’t assume they don’t know anything, or that they don’t care. With the internet available, they most likely have seen reports, photos, video clips and comments (some will be accurate and some will be propaganda). Until you know what they’ve been through, you can’t tell if they may need more support to understand and understand what they’re hearing and seeing.
With older children and teenagers, you may have to be careful not to patronize them, especially with firm affirmations that all will be well. There is so much risk in what could happen that trying to dismiss it can be counterproductive, as your teen may lose a little bit of trust or confidence in you. There may be opportunities to challenge any misconceptions they may have, but it’s not worth it to become a conflict. If you find you have a different point of view, then you may have to accept that you have a different point of view.
By opening up discussions about the Ukraine invasion, you allow your children to talk about what they understand as well as how they feel about it all. Hopefully they will be able to absorb from your tone and words that you are willing and able to hear what they have to say. While there is no guarantee of what will happen in the coming days and weeks, it is better to talk than let any negativity build up inside.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/how-much-should-you-tell-your-children-about-the-war-in-ukraine-41397458.html How much should you tell your children about the war in Ukraine?