Talking to kids about war

News surrounding Russia invading Ukraine and the devastating effects of war are overwhelming especially for children. We have just gone through two of the most emotionally charged years with COVID-19, the impact of which on our emotional wellbeing is only starting to be discovered. We have operated in survival mode in a high state of alert for a long period of time, therefore we are extremely triggered by further threats to our safety.

The media thrive on creating mass hysteria and therefore generalise and heighten situations for full impact, which can be very traumatic for our children to watch. Our children are like sponges and will be absorbing everything they see and hear on social media, the news and general conversation.

How to we talk to our children about it?

Regulate yourself first

It’s important to work out what you know about the situation and how you feel first. Children can pick up and sense what’s being communicated non verbally such as your voice tone and body language.

Listen to them and answer their questions
By listening to what is specifically worrying them and to the questions they ask you will be able to get a sense of what it is they are really worried about. Don’t suggest what they could be worried about as you might be adding to their worries. Answer their questions as clearly as you can and limit the amount of detail, especially for younger children. They will ask things spontaneously so they might catch you off guard, you don’t have to have all the answers but you can let them know that you’re not sure about the answer to that question but you’ll find out for them. Older children might want to talk about the issues between Ukraine and Russia that has led to the current situation.

Reality check and normalise the situation
Educate them about wars that have happened over the past few such as the Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemini Civil war that haven’t impacted our country directly. Explain the difference between this and a world war.

Minimise exposure
Think about the messages children are exposed to daily
- News on TV
-Radio in the car
-Social Media
Can you reduce the amount of exposure they have?
Acts with kindness
Find ways to feel powerful rather than helpless, raise money, donate essentials. Kindness boosts our happy hormones, which makes us feel calmer and acts as stress relief.


Download our information sheet below to use in classrooms or at home.

Talking to kids about war