Why is there a war? What is going to happen? Will you get here? Where do the explosions come from? Minors ask many of these questions in the face of the situation that is being experienced in Ukraine. Like adults, they feel anguish and concern when they see the images on television or listen to the information that reaches us from the radio. Therefore, it is key to know that fear is the same emotion in a child as in an adult and that the difference is that we have more strategies to manage it.
Hence, do not underestimate the emotion that this news can create; If you are going to talk to them about the subject, it is essential to start from their level of knowledge: what do they know, what do they think a war is or why it occurs. We can achieve this by simply asking questions and really listening, having the necessary patience not to correct what you say until you have expressed everything you want to say. At what age can we start talking about these issues? It is always necessary to take into account the maturational level of the child, but from the age of three or four it could be spoken adapting the message to his age. More important than talking about a specific topic is that he feels heard, understood and that he has his family as a point of expression for everything that happens to him on any topic. Not being able to talk about something causes a lot of anguish.
The uncertainty that we have experienced in recent years is generating anguish and problems related to mental health in children and adolescents, therefore, it is important to have emotional tools to be able to face the unexpected. The lack of control over what happens generates anxiety. So the first thing we need to do is talk to them so they feel understood, and then we can give them a role to play. It would be about explaining to them that, so that there are no wars in the future, they can learn to resolve conflicts without hitting at recess or in the park, to help others to resolve them, and to be kind and share.
We can also transmit constructive and positive messages to them, for example, telling them that there are many good people who help, donate clothes, food… Let them know that there are people who care about them, just like their family, friends or teachers do. . In addition, it is a good opportunity to make them participate in aid actions in neighborhood associations, since it can be a very enriching experience.
In short, the tips to keep in mind to speak appropriately about the war with minors are: Investigate what they know about what is happening through direct questions. Give them the information they need in simple language, adapted to their age. Prevent them from seeing images about the war constantly, but do not hide them. Listen to what they have to say and answer their questions with patience and empathy, that is, accompany them.