Guiding Your Children Through the War in Ukraine

February 28, 2022

By Dr. Eric Levene, Chester Pediatrics

We are watching a new war in Europe, but how we are watching is different.  

While the 24-hour news coverage we see on TV is the same, the difference is our kids can see the Russian invasion of Ukraine on social media, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. They are seeing people just like them reporting from homes, shelters, and bunkers. Many Tiktokers are talking about a US draft and World War 3.  Whether it is meant as a joke or not, this can be scary for kids to see. So as a parent, what should you do?

As we always say during tragedies, limit the news playing in the house. It’s more than likely your child will be listening or watching. After that, it depends on the age of the child. 

At first your tween or teen might not be interested in talking about what is going on, and that’s fine. Just be sure to let them know you are there if they want to talk. If there is interest, it’s a great time to open Google Maps and start there. It’s also a great time to give a short history of the area – Wikipedia is a good option for short summaries. Understanding the history and geography of the region can give your tween or teen a good perspective. Have an open discussion on what is being reported. It is a good time to share how you feel, your beliefs, and how you view this world event.

Ask your teen where they are getting their information. If they are watching on TikTok, ask to watch with them. They are probably seeing firsthand what is happening to kids like them. Ukrainian teens have the internet, TikTok, and are recording on their phones. Your kids can relate to them. Discuss with your teen what you are seeing. Assure them they are safe and perhaps discuss how they feel. If your teen wants to get involved, help, or aid in any way, work with them to find charities that best represent your ideals.

For younger kids, it is important to make them feel safe. Make sure to tell them this invasion is in a far-off location. Ask them what scares them and reassure them. Don’t dismiss their fears or concerns. Know its ok to say, ” I don’t know” or “I was wondering that as well.”

At the end of the day, the best reassurance you can provide is a hug, a kiss, and an “I love you.” 

Your Trusted Allied Pediatrician

For more information on how to talk with your children, tweens, and teens about the war in Ukraine, click here.

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