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How to Talk With Children About Ukraine For Ages 6 and Up by Jeanette Yoffe M.F.T.

Updated: Mar 17


“Children have a right to know and parents need to be responsible in relaying information in age-appropriate language.” - Unicef

1. Be CURIOUS. Ask about what they know. Follow your child, tween, or teen’s lead. Ages 0-5, protect them from knowing, they won't understand. Their brains will think this is happening right now and close to home. They will not be able to differentiate time and space. Ages 6-7ish, use your best judgment. Ask "Have you learned about any news happening in the world lately?"

2. Be an OWL. Observe, Watch and Listen to their non-verbal cues. 70-90% of communication is non-verbal. Just because they are not talking about it, does not mean they are not actively thinking about it. Ask and OWL: "How do you feel about this? What are your thoughts about this happening in the world?" Here are a list of Non-verbal cues to pay attention to, if your child is experiencing stress or anxiety: 1. How they look at you?

2. Facial expressions

3. Tone of voice

4. Posture

5. Gestures

6. Timing of their response to you.

7. Intensity of their response to you. If they appear stressed... ask them "I am sensing you are feeling stressed. Is that right?"

´1. Describe the facts: I see you… I hear you….___________________.”

´2. Be Curious: “Do you feel sad/mad/upset…about_____________”

´3. Try to understand the reason for the feelings: Because you want or need or feel strongly about___________________”

4. Make a request to support and manage their feelings:

“Would you be willing to______ …. Would you like to…._______” Interventions to help process their feelings and thoughts i.e. make a Sad Bag, listen to music, sketch/draw feelings, create lyrics to a song, write a letter, find ways to help others HERE.

Make a peace poster and put on your window, room or front door to share with the world.



3. Be AWARE OF TV USE. Keep the TV off during the day, so they are not seeing repetitive images. Watch updates, after they have gone to bed.

4. Be SENSITIVE TO ANXIETIES. If they are worried, be curious about what specifically they are worried about. Validate their fears, or sadness. Take their concerns seriously.

5. Be a REASSURING HERO. Let them know they are safe from danger and cared for. You are keeping them safe, you are their superhero. The war is far away and they are safe in their home. Show them on a globe or map how far and reassure them they are safe with you.

6. Be a COMPASSIONATE AMBASSADOR. Talk about sending Ukrainian's compassion and empathy for how hard this must be for children and families to flee their country and seek safety in these troubling times. Say , "This must feel very scary and sad. We can feel compassion for them, and send a loving kindness message." Watch video here with your child:

What is happening? •"A sad thing is happening in Ukraine. People are hurting. A lot of people are very upset and there a lot of helpers and brave people there with them."

•"Some people have strong beliefs, that they commit acts and crimes they feel are justified."

For Help Answering Concerns from Tweens and Teens read more HERE VIDEOS FOR PARENTS: 5 Ways to Help Kids With Disturbing News by Common Sense Media


Why are they doing this bad thing?

•"That’s a good question. There is no good reason to harm other people."

•"We don't completely understand why."

•"They don’t know how to be kind to others." Age 11 and over, it’s okay to say...


•" I'm not sure of the answer to that question. Let me think about it."

• "I wish there was a good answer to that question, but we just don't know. "

• "I'm sad/angry, too We all feel sad/angry about this."

Videos for Children:




7. Be a HELPER. If they are worried about kids/teens in Ukraine let them know how they can be a helper i.e donate to a charity, create a go fund me page with perks to donate to a charity. Here is a list of sites that help kids DO GOOD: HERE

8. Be CURIOUS. Continue to bring it up and keep the door open to new questions. Earlier in the day to discuss, not right before bed. "Any new questions?"


“During times of stress and crisis, children will observe adults’ behaviors and emotions for cues on how to manage their own.” – Unicef

Mental Health Interventions For Children ages 5-9


Make a SAD BAG:



Do a MINDFULNESS EXERCISE:


Create a FEEL GOOD PLAN:

References and Resources: FAMILY EDUCATION - Talking About War: https://www.familyeducation.com/life/wars/talking-kids-about-war-explain UNICEF - Talking About Conflict: https://www.unicef.org/parenting/how-talk-your-children-about-conflict-and-war


SESAME STREET COMMUNITIES - Talking About Violence: https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/subtopics/community-violence/ COMMON SENSE MEDIA - News and Americas Kids: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/news-and-americas-kids

COMMON SENSE MEDIA- Explaining News To Kids: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/explaining-the-news-to-our-kids

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