Dad dot info
Free online course for separated parents
Forum - Ask questions. Get answers.
Free online course for separated parents
DAD.info | Opinion | How to Talk to Children about the Invasion of Ukraine

How to Talk to Children about the Invasion of Ukraine

Images of fathers leaving their families to stay behind. Videos of explosions. Photographs of children harmed. How should we talk about the Ukraine crisis with our children?   

Our Fegans counsellors provide some suggestions below for engaging in conversations about the situation in Ukraine.

Three reasons to talk to children about the war in Ukraine 

  1. To help children process difficult emotions that may arise. Having a supportive discussion about a stressful event can decrease distress. In other words, it’s always best to address ‘the elephant in the room’. Having these conversations provides you with the opportunity to help your child make sense of how they might be feeling and to provide reassurance. 
  1. To combat misinformation. Children and teens will already have seen or read about the invasion of Ukraine. If that information is from TikTok and Snapchat, then they have probably seen misinformation. Your job is to keep children informed about the war based on reliable information from reputable sources, and to provide opportunities for children to ask questions. 
  1. To encourage compassionate views towards others. Talking to children about the war in Ukraine can encourage compassion. This is an opportunity to understand the emotions of others. Try asking your children “what might someone else in this situation be feeling right now?” 

Conversations with children under the age of five 

If your child asks you a question about what is happening, provide them with simple information and avoid providing more detail than requested. 

For example, you could say “one country is not being very nice to another country and it is making people feel upset.”  

For children of all ages, it’s important to monitor their exposure to news and media, especially violent content. Also, minimise what young children overhear of adult conversations. 

Conversations with school-aged children and teenagers 

First, make sure that you are feeling calm enough to have the discussion. If you are feeling upset, tired or anxious, it is best to give yourself some time before initiating the conversation.  

Start by asking your child what they have heard about the conflict in Ukraine.  

Next, validate and normalise how they are feeling. If they say it’s distressing for them, you can say: “It can be scary to think about a war; most kids and adults feel scared too.” If your child does not know very much or does not seem to be very concerned about what is happening, just keep the discussion brief. 

Talking about the distance between the UK and ongoing fighting can be helpful. It’s a fact that wars are happening across the globe and have been ongoing throughout your child’s life. Tweens may want to watch Newsround which explains events clearly and in an age-appropriate way. You could even sit and watch it together and then have a discussion about what you’ve heard. 

Choose age-appropriate news sources

Regardless of whether they are distressed or not, you can share some factual age-appropriate information. Teenagers’ brains are wired to find out things for themselves, rather than be told, so direct them to reliable information sources. 

Most importantly, children need reassurance that adults will do everything they can to keep them safe.  

By talking, you show your child that you are willing and open to having discussions, even when times are tough. This can help build a lasting foundation to talk about difficult topics. 

The Information Age

Our children are not the first generation of children to grow up with wars. What is new is how this generation of young people are accessing and consuming news. It is therefore vital for children to be adequately informed and reassured by the adults they trust, and to be provided with opportunities to make sense of how they might be feeling as distressing events unfold. 

Related entries

What is life? How did it start? Why did it begin?

What is life? How did it start? Why did it begin?

Creative dad Idan Ben-Barak, author of Do Not Lick This Book and the brand new We Go Way Back, fits creative writing around raising his kids and a full-time job. Inspired, we had him in for a chat at Dad.info HQ. We Go Way Back published by Allen & Unwin...

Dad.info LIVE | chatting about being a dad to a newborn

Dad.info LIVE | chatting about being a dad to a newborn

Ian Soars, MD of Dad.info has been talking about nipples, hormones and post-natal depression with Kieran Anders Dad Matters Project Manager. Tune in and learn why dads matter to mums, to babies and to everyone. Top tips on accessing support, and learn just how...

Latest entries

Eating together is important- for both you and your kids

Eating together is important- for both you and your kids

As busy parents it can be tempting to shovel our food down Homer Simpson-style, while the kids watch a cartoon. With our daily lives so busy, it can feel like too much effort to sit down to eat together. However, research is coming to light that shows why eating meals...

ASK DEBBIE: DO I SPLIT UP MY KIDS?

ASK DEBBIE: DO I SPLIT UP MY KIDS?

Hi Dad, What a difficult decision for you. There are several things to consider here before making the final decision. Separating the children could impact the quality of the sibling relationship. This relationship is important and beneficial to the two children....

Prostate problems: what you need to know

Prostate problems: what you need to know

As it's Men's Mental Health Month (Movember) in November, Dad Info is focussing on awareness of men's health issues. As part of this series we are focussing on prostate problems. What is a prostate? The prostate is a small tube found only in men, surrounding the tube...

Pin It on Pinterest