Dear PS 84 Lion Families,
In an effort to support our students and their families during times of conflict and uncertainty, our team, led by our Guidance Counselor, Ms. Jessi has researched articles that help families approach the topic. Please read the attached articles. If you find that your child has been anxious or affected by recent events, please feel free to contact us.
How to the invasion of Ukraine, and why those conversations are important talk to children about
Written by: Nicole Racine, Camille Mori
To help children process difficult emotions that may arise. Although it might seem like a good idea to avoid an in-depth discussion to thwart increased anxiety or alarm, evidence suggests that having a supportive discussion about a stressful event can actually decrease distress. It’s best to “name it to tame it.” Children in families that are more expressive perceive less threat related to a stressor. Having these conversations provides you with the opportunity to help your child make sense of how they might be feeling and to provide reassurance.
To combat misinformation. In this age of ubiquitous access to news and media, children and teens have likely already been exposed to some kind of information — pictures, video clips or news — about the invasion of Ukraine. Unfortunately, there has been a surge of misinformation and purposeful disinformation shared on social media apps routinely used by youth, such as TikTok and Snapchat. This makes it critical for parents and educators to keep children informed of the Ukraine invasion based on reliable information from reputable sources, and to provide opportunities for children to ask questions.
To model and encourage compassionate views towards others. Talking to children about the war in Ukraine can model a compassionate view towards fellow humans, regardless of distance or circumstance. Taking the time to talk with children about world events is an opportunity to engage in perspective-taking and to emphasize the importance of understanding the emotions, and contexts of others in a developmentally appropriate way. Asking an adolescent, a question such as “what might someone else in this situation be feeling right now?” can support the growth of an empathic view of other’s lives.
Start by asking your child what they have heard or what they might know about the conflict in Ukraine. Next, validate and normalize 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 disconcerted about what is happening, you can keep the discussion brief.
Regardless of whether they are distressed or not, you can share some factual and developmentally appropriate information. For example, you might look at a map of the world together and share where the conflict is occurring. You can share some basic information about what is happening and why, and where and how they can gather reliable information.
Most importantly, children need reassurance that adults will do everything they can to keep them safe. If needed, you can make a plan to identify distractions or activities to focus on. You could also offer your support or assistance to a Ukrainian friend or neighbor who may be particularly worried or struggling.
Ultimately, by having these conversations, 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.
PS 84’s Respect for All Team!