The news out of the Middle East is heartbreaking and a reminder of how dangerous our world can be. At times like this, it is challenging for many parents to talk to their kids about war and conflict. Regardless of where you are in the world or your views on any conflict, people on all sides are deeply impacted emotionally. How can you explain global conflict without causing too much emotional pain?
We cannot protect our children from the realities of the real world forever, but times of human suffering can instill heartache. Even if the conflict doesn't directly affect you personally, we all bear the impact of what we witness in our global environment.
What is the most effective way to emotionally support your children during war and armed conflict?
1. Share your honest feelings to establish trust and create a sense of security.
2. Take the lead as the family's leader.
3. Maintain a natural, conversational tone to ensure your child feels at ease.
4. Recognize that grief is an emotional process, not a matter of intellect. It's normal for your child to feel sadness or fear.
5. Acknowledge that each child has a unique perspective on war-related information.
6. Articulate your beliefs about war clearly and openly to your children.
7. Exercise patience and allow your child the time to form their own opinions.
8. Listen empathetically, without judgment or criticism, when your children express their emotions.
9. Let your children discuss their thoughts and feelings as often as possible.
10. Provide genuine and straightforward answers that directly address their questions.
11. Consider reading the Myths About Grief eBook to gain insights into avoiding unhelpful statements.
1. Avoid saying, "Don't be afraid," since fear is a typical reaction to frightening circumstances.
2. Refrain from saying, "Don't be sad," as sadness is a healthy and normal response to war and global conflicts.
3. Avoid putting up a strong front for your children. Inconsistencies between words and actions can confuse them, and it may make them feel they need to suppress their feelings.
4. Do not compare their lives or circumstances to those of others globally, as this can trivialize their emotions.
5. Instead of making promises that may not be guaranteed, say, "We will do our best to stay safe," instead of "Everything will be fine."
6. Resist the urge to try to "fix" your children. Their feelings need acknowledgment and understanding rather than a solution.
Remember that your children look to you during times of emotional pain. If they witness you expressing your emotions, they will feel more comfortable doing the same. Although we don't have control over geopolitics, we can control how we show up for our kids during tough times.