If you’re confused and overwhelmed about how to approach these conversations, you’re not alone. Here are some tips from child development experts for talking about war in a supportive, comforting, and age-appropriate way.
Before any big conversation, ask your child what they’ve already heard and how they’re feeling about it. Check in regularly, acknowledge how they’re feeling about it, and give them a safe space to share their concerns. Take the time to listen, reassure, and clarify any misinformation or confusion.
Give Kid-Friendly Context
Explaining where things are happening and who is involved can help children understand a bit more about what’s going on. Wartime news is difficult and frightening for small ears, so save the adult conversation and TV for after bedtime. Avoid labels like “bad guys” in your explanations; focus on showing compassion for the people involved. If there’s something you don’t know, it’s okay to say so. If it’s something you can research, do it together.
Share stories with your kids about how people around the world are helping one another during the crisis. Families, friends, neighbors, doctors, first responders, and all sorts of regular people are doing everything they can to care for others and make the world a safer place. Your child might even want to find a way they can help, too. Participate in a fundraiser, sign a petition, write letters, or make art. Taking action, no matter how small, can be empowering for all ages.
Be ready with open ears and open arms to reassure your child that they are heard, safe, and loved.