Talking to your children about war

Courtesy of Collat Jewish Family Services

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Talking to children about war can be a challenging and sensitive topic, but it’s important to address their questions and concerns in an age-appropriate and reassuring way. Here are some guidelines on how to approach this conversation:

  1. Consider their age and maturity
    • Young children (under 7): Keep explanations simple and avoid graphic details. Focus on reassuring them that they are safe and loved.
    • Children (7-12): Provide more information but still avoid graphic descriptions. Answer their questions honestly, but at a level they can understand.
    • Teens (13+): Engage in deeper discussions and address their questions with more detailed information. Encourage critical thinking and empathy.
  2. Be honest but age-appropriate
    • Use simple and concrete language for younger children, and gradually introduce more complex concepts for older children.
    • Explain that war is a conflict between groups or countries and that it can cause harm and destruction.
    • Avoid exaggeration or overly negative language that may cause unnecessary fear.
  3. Reassure their safety
    • Emphasize that they are safe, and the adults around them are working to keep them protected.
    • Share stories of resilience and hope to counterbalance the negative aspects of war.
  4. Encourage questions
    • Let children know that it’s okay to ask questions about war and its consequences.
    • Answer their questions honestly, but avoid overwhelming them with too much information.
  5. Monitor exposure to news
    • Limit their exposure to graphic or distressing images and news reports about war, especially for younger children.
    • Share information with them in a controlled and age-appropriate manner.
  6. Seek professional help if needed
    • If a child appears to be deeply affected by discussions of war or displays signs of anxiety or distress, consider seeking guidance from a professional.

Remember that every child is different, and your approach should be tailored to their individual needs and understanding. The key is to create a safe and open environment where they can express their feelings and questions while receiving age-appropriate information and reassurance.