How to Explain the Ukrainian Invasion to Kids

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Currents News Staff

The images are scary for anyone. But the war in Ukraine may cause worry and even fear in small children who see or hear about the unrest. Here’s some advice from Cleveland Pediatric Psychologist Vanessa Jensen when talking to them: Keep it straightforward.

“It’s far away and that’s something that grownups do — let the grownups take care of this right now, okay. We get to take care of you and then we’ll make sure the adults take care of that. So, sometimes you just need to simplify it,” Vanessa said.

Vanessa said kids of any age can be bothered by what they’re seeing. The images can show up in nightmares and night terrors. She says it’s a good idea to monitor what the children see and guard against showing disturbing images to younger children.

If a child has seen something upsetting, Vanessa says to ask a lot of questions to gauge what they know and how they feel.

“If you see things or hear things that either you wonder about or are just kind of scary, let’s talk about it,” she says. “Help them normalize those thoughts. It’s OK to feel kind of scared that this is happening in our world.” 

If a child is feeling unsafe, Vanessa says it might help to show them Ukraine on a map so they see the fighting is far away. No matter your child’s age, she says all children need extra support and reassurance from their parents right now.