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10 Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About War
There are many benefits of talking to children (ages 4 to 9) about war. Dr. Alvin Poussaint and Susan Linn, Ed.D. share that it is extremely difficult to talk to children about this sensitive topic. The two authors admit, however, that there are ways to help children understand war without making them feel traumatized by it. Other authors also have advice on this important topic.
#1 – Ask your kids some questions.
“How did you know about the war in Iraq?” “What do you know about the current situation there?” These are questions that are sensitive and sensible enough to start a conversation on the subject.
#2 – Share your views on the matter.
This will help you better communicate with your children when it comes to war. Give your thoughts on how you understand the situation as well. Listen to your child’s opinions.
#3 – Limit exposure to television or any other media.
Helping your kids understand war doesn’t mean you also have to expose them to a medium that can explain the whole situation. You don’t want your kids to be scared of any war video they see on TV. This can be traumatic and can produce undesirable effects later in life. This can even cause nightmares and anxiety.
#4 – Refrain from lecturing on the issues.
Your kids won’t appreciate it. KidsGrowth.com emphasizes that lecturing should be reserved until you know your children understand war in a fuller perspective.
#5 – Look for opportunities when they arise.
You can wait for your child to open a conversation while you watch TV together. You can also start the conversation yourself. That way, you can be sure that the child will have a better understanding of what is going on.
#6 – Never dismiss your child’s fear.
They will feel shame when you do this. It is important to reassure them that you understand how they feel about the situation. According to a prominent article published in the University of Pennsylvania, it would help if you tell your child that you understand how they feel and that you feel the same way.
#7 – Reassure them with facts that will allay their fears.
Since you can’t dismiss their fears, you can mention facts that will help them face that scary moment. You can tell them that the government and armed forces are doing something to solve the problem. Tell them that there are people protecting every family affected (and who may be affected) by war.
#8 – Anticipate questions he may ask.
Your child can always have worries after seeing a war on TV. For example, he may raise questions such as: “Why is there war in this world?” “Will there come a time when I myself will have to fight?” “Will people be killed?” These questions need honest answers. You should be ready to reveal facts to your children.
#9 – Don’t complicate things.
As young as your children are, all they want are simple answers to the situation. You can make distinctions between protracted war, killings and bombings. Make sure you define these terms in a way they understand.
# 10 – Help your children deal with information overload.
As the University of Pennsylvania says, your child may have heard about war from a variety of sources. Friends, teachers and other adults may have relayed the message of this situation in different perspectives. As a parent, it is your role to monitor what your child has heard about war.
These are things that will help you talk to your children about war. Always make sure you know your children’s special needs before you even talk to them about it. It would help if you let them start the conversation.
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